A councilman from Midwood refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance Wednesday to make a “private protest public” over what he called racial injustice in the country.
Jumaane Williams, a Democrat, was the only lawmaker to sit as the pledge was recited during a Council meeting. He explained in a statement afterward that it was a measure of his “patriotism” and that he would continue sitting through recitals of the pledge at Council meetings.
“In good conscience I couldn’t continue to protest quietly without using it to highlight the plight of so many,” Williams said. “As a person who loves the country of his birth, believes in it and is privileged to have reached a modicum of success in his chosen field, I believe it is my duty to do all I can to raise the voice of those who feel voiceless and who struggle every day.”
One of his colleagues, Eric Ulrich, a Republican from Queens, told CBS that an official meeting is not the place to make such a statement.
“I think it is very disrespectful,” Ulrich said. “It sends the wrong message to our children and, quite frankly, it’s un-American.”