Downtown Assembly member kneels for pledge

first_imgThe Anchorage Assembly chambers at the Z. J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage. (Staff photo)Citing the concerns among his constituents an Anchorage Assembly member knelt during the pledge of allegiance during a Tuesday meeting.Listen Now Downtown assembly member Patrick Flynn represents Fairview and Mountainview, two of the most diverse census tracts in the country.As the pledge began, Flynn kept his hand over his chest and recited the words, but took to one knee.In a brief interview afterwards, he said the gesture was “out of respect for those who’ve expressed concern that we don’t always live up to our ideals.”“I’m mindful and respectful of that, particularly since I represent a lot of that population,” Flynn added, referring to minority communities in his district.Political protests surrounding the pledge have been a contentious topic the last few weeks, both at the national level among professional athletes, as well as closer to home, with several football player’s from Anchorage’s West High recently taking a knee ahead of a game.Flynn said it was likely a one-time demonstration for him.The gesture went largely unnoticed at the time, with Assembly Chair Elvi Gray-Jackson saying later on that she thought Flynn simply fell.But Amy Demobski, who represents the conservative Eagle River district, said towards the meeting’s end she was bothered by what had taken place.“As a veteran, as someone who supports law enforcement, as someone who looks at the Pledge of Allegiance as something that honors the sacrifices made from men and women who’ve died defending our country I find it disrespectful. As an assembly member I find it disrespectful, this is a formal procedure,” she said during comments.Demboski asked the assembly’s leadership to counsel members against similar displays, citing it as a violation of formal protocols for the body.But others, including both active-duty and retired service-members, disagreed with that level of condemnation.A mild counter-protest to the kneel came from Flynn’s conservative colleague from South Anchorage, Bill Evans, himself an Army veteran.Evans sits next to Flynn on the dais, and heard through social media that his colleague was considering making a statement. He went out of his way during opening remarks to mention that he’d pinned his jump wings from airborne training to his lapel. But Evans was matter-of-fact that respects anyone’s right to symbolic protest.“I just thought if we were going to open it up to comments with symbols I wanted to do the same thing,” Evans said during a brief interview.“It’s great Patrick (Flynn) has the right to express whatever concern he’s trying to express, and I just want to make it clear that other people view it somewhat differently, and have equally valid concerns.”last_img

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