At the center of the nation’s attention, with a punishing thunderstorm adding to the drama, the St. Louis Park City Council, which included Mayor Jake Spano (who was not present during the previous vote), invoked an outstanding 7-0 unanimous decision to reinstate the Pledge of Allegiance to their agenda. A full and complete 180-turn from their June 17th decision. The council chambers were a packed house with likely around 100 people in the chambers and many more occupying the lobby immediately outside the chambers.
As the council members walked out to take their seats on the dais, the great majority of the room, which included war veterans, “Bikers for Trump”, and the garden-variety of concerned citizens, stood up in charming defiance, proudly reciting the Pledge. The council, it should well be noted, all stayed seated.
Incredibly, the pledge was not included on the July 15th agenda. Council member Thom Miller (who also wasn’t present during the previous vote) wisely moved to add and vote on the matter before moving to the scheduled agenda.
Community Organizer, Marni Hockenberg, appeared in full patriotic force along with her compatriot and fellow activist, Michele Even as part of their “Save The Pledge” rally. Ms. Hockenberg, as reported on her own YouTube channel, had over 3,000 signed petitions in hand courtesy of their website, ready and waiting to present to the council.
The council then proceeded to bathe in the steam of self-pity. An endless stream of “why is everyone picking on us” characterized the utterances of almost everyone on the council.
Ward 4 council member Tim Brausen, who had previously moved to take the pledge off the agenda, commenced his address by stating that, “it’s a shame that city staff had to bear the brunt of the anger that was being directed at [them]. My apologies”. Echoing what he stated in a previous meeting as well Anne Mavity’s comments which were previously reported . While admitting his past “tone deaf manner” on this issue, he seemed to still carry that affliction, in a rather advanced stage. In an address to the “national media, specifically Fox News Network”, Mr. Brausen in a courageously toxic trifecta of arrogance, fake outrage, and evasion, blubbered about Fox themselves not saying the pledge of allegiance before each broadcast. “After all…”, Brausen points out with no feeling for the irony of his statement, “…it only takes 15 seconds”. This wasn’t even a try at remorse, let alone a good one. Not one content to only look foolish once, Mr. Brausen went on to ask why the news networks “seize upon issues like this that seek to divide us all”. That comment drew an immediate and intense wave of “you divided us!”, “this was the council’s fault!”, “you made the decision!”, from the patriotic activists in the audience. Mr Brausen then unapologetically threw his hands up into the familiar quotation mark gesture and said the “issue” was one of which he received around 100 emails, equally divided in opinion. However, it must finally be stated that Mr Brausen did, in fact, vote to reinstate the pledge into their agenda. Decent enough action until Mr. Brausen closed by saying that he only did it so citizens would stop “complaining about others and how they open their meetings”.
A good word must be put in for “Large A” Council member Steve Hallfin. To his credit, he was the only councilman who truly seemed remorseful or ashamed. The Army veteran held back tears during his address, stating that when he ,”raised [his] hand many years ago and took an oath, it was to defend the Constitution of the United States of America”. Amidst screams of “Coward! Coward! Coward!” by the crowd outside the chambers, Mr. Hallfin braved through recalling a recent threat calling for him to be hung. He valiantly went on to say that “in doing some soul-searching” he “concluded that [he] made a mistake” in voting to remove the pledge. In a seldom-seen display of humility, Mr. Hallfin said he was “asking for forgiveness” from all the people “who have been affected by this decision”.
A warm wave of amity washed over the audience and cries of “Thank You!”, “I forgive you!”, and “I appreciate you” can be heard. His humility hit a crescendo when Mr. Hallfin issued a “challenge” to “[government] officials throughout the entire county”. He said he was admitting his “…mistake on camera in an open meeting”. His challenge was “regardless of level of office or government” to “go on camera and admit the mistakes that [other government officials] have made while in office and ask for forgiveness”. Mr Hallfin closed by saying that “aside from the separation of [his wife] and the death of [his] parents, these past three weeks have been the most difficult of [his] life.”
While, Mr. Hallfin is unable to escape the charge of self-pity entirely with that remark, he nonetheless expressed gratitude at the opportunity to “correct the mistake and get on with the business of our city”. His statement drew near-universal applause from the inhabitants of the chamber.
The same can’t quite be said for Ward 2 council member Anne Mavity. Ms. Mavity hurled a slew of misdirection at the good citizens, citing the non sequitur that, after all, to wear the American flag ( in specialty cargo shorts, dresses, hat,etc.) was itself a form of desecration and therefore the citizens surrender their carte blanche to criticize the removal of the pledge. Not only is this vulgar attempt at grand-standing completely irrelevant to the proud tradition of the sacred pledge, it also demonstrates a resort to sordid euphemism. The federal Flag Code, 4 U.S. Code § 8, recommends not wearing the flag as an etiquette guideline, not as a matter of patriotism.
Ms. Mavity continued, in a show of startling innuendo, by snidely saying “I don’t know what the right number of times is to say the Pledge of Allegiance, is it once a day, once a week, is it once a month… every single meeting?”. She did go on to voice her intent to pass the motion to reinstate the Pledge but added that she isn’t “sure that if you say the Pledge three times a month, instead of just two that you’re more patriotic or that if you say it one time a month, you’re less patriotic”. A cold and uneasy victory there to be sure, but victories ought to be taken where they can be gotten.
As a result of the vote, there was a 7-0 unanimous consensus to reinstate the Pledge that was met with a convulsion of delight, pride, and an overwhelming sense of victory fell upon the “Save The Pledge” crowd and all inhabitants outside the Chambers.
One final element to this nationally-covered unfolding is once the motion passed, the Council adjourning for 10 minutes, ostensibly to give those who came to show solidarity with the pledge to leave. 10 minutes later, they came back and, as part of their newly passed agenda, started opening procedures with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Hockenberg and Ms. Even, in the mood for celebrating and with good reason, made their way to a local restaurant with a number of their fellow-traveling activists where celebration and intellectual discussion both flowed in generous amounts. One of the original placards that had “Save The Pledge” written on it had been supplied with a “D”, to read “SaveD The Pledge”. This one-of-a-kind trophy was subsequently signed by many of the activists who turned out for this all-important of Government victories.
With this striking victory for Ms. Hockenberg’s and Ms. Even’s “The Patriots” citizen activists and their “Save The Pledge” movement, this feels like the beginning of a movement for grass roots Conservative activists who would love America to unite and mobilize to ensure that America remains a great nation. As well as, become an inspiration to other Conservatives to have the confidence that they can organize and make a difference.
Josh Cohen is a freelance writer and Conservative political commentator living in Minnesota. He hosts a blog where he provides insight into a wide array of social and political topics as well as a podcast where he invites thought leaders from all realms of the political and cultural sphere for long-form discussions.