Should the West Hollywood City Council “Take a Knee” on Monday?

Colin Kaepernick, right, kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner at a San Francisco 49ers game in August 2016.

Should the West Hollywood City Council “take a knee” on Monday?

That’s the provocative question raised by City Councilmember Lauren Meister in a recent post on her Facebook page. Meister was alluding to a movement launched by Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers in August of last year. Kaepernick decided to kneel rather than stand during the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner” before the start of a pre-season game.

Kaepernick explained that he saw his action as a way to protest the oppression of black people in the United States

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of [color],” he said in an interviewed posted on NFL.com, referencing the growing outcry over police shootings of African-American people. “This is bigger than football…There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The “Take a Knee” movement, as it now is being called, has been embraced by a wide variety of people, and with Donald Trump’s recent condemnation of it the movement has become about more that racial oppression.

On Sept. 22, while campaigning in Alabama for U.S. Senate candidate Luther Strange, Trump called on owners of NFL teams to fire players who refused to stand during the national anthem. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say, get that son of a bitch off the field right now? Out. He’s fired. He’s fired,” Trump said.

The result was hundreds of football players refusing to stand, or in some cases leave the locker room, while the Star Spangled Banner was being sung. Dozens of other groups have hopped on the “banner” wagon to support and emulate the protests, many doing so less as statement of support for black rights and more as a way to proclaim their support for First Amendment — giving people (including football players) the right to speak their opinions. (Worth noting and often ignored is that the First Amendment only blocks the government from restricting one’s right to give his or her opinion. It doesn’t apply to individuals or nonprofits or corporations.)

The West Hollywood City Council giving the Pledge of Allegiance (Photo by Richard Settles courtesy of the City of West Hollywood)

The West Hollywood City Council does not sing the Star Spangled Banner before its twice-monthly meetings. But Council members do stand and invite a local resident to lead them in the Pledge of Allegiance. Virtually all members of the audience in the City Council Chamber join them. Such pledges of allegiance also are repeated at various city board and commission meetings. So the question really is whether the City Council should give the Pledge of Allegiance, not sing a song it has never sung.

Meister’s question on Facebook had gotten nearly 50 responses as of 5 p.m. today (Saturday), with almost all of them supporting the idea of “taking a knee” to protest. Others disagree.

Christopher Landavazzo, a gay L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy formerly stationed in West Hollywood, said that refusing to make the pledge is “utterly disgusting, shameful and disrespectful.” Tod Carson, a local interior designer who identifies as conservative and gay, also condemned the act of kneeling. And Charles Anteby, a local resident who is an actor, said “kneeling at a City Council meeting is going too far and, yes, disrespecting the flag!” (In the spirit of full disclosure, Henry (Hank) Scott, publisher and editor of WEHOville, as a matter of principle has declined to say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the Star Spangled Banner in recent years.)

As part of our “Let’s Discuss” series, WEHOville is asking you, our readers, what you think the City Council should do at its meeting on Monday? Should Council members “kneel,” whether literally or figuratively? If one or more did, what would you interpret that to mean? And would you join them?

(By the way, the meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. on Monday in the City Council Chambers at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. if you’d like to show up and kneel or sit or stand. Parking is free in the five-story structure behind the Council chambers with a ticket validated in the lobby.)

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Scott T Imler
2 years ago

I stand by choice that others may kneel as they are called.

Francesca Jacobs
2 years ago

West Hollywood would benefit from focus on community unity and linking arms can be a united kind movement to keep our community united but I am not so sure young kids will understand Mayors or City Council kneeling as it was originated for National Anthem at NFL games. With the multitude of LASD misconducts in Weho to innocent citizens and even a death from it and the need to have P.E.T teams address dangerous homeless and find placement….and the many times hostile bullying within City offices towards community…I believe the unity of linking arms is peaceful and does not disrespect… Read more »

luca d
luca d
2 years ago

the united states flag and national anthem represent the goodness of her people, regardless of flaws and failings. the founders brilliantly built into the constitution, remedies and a pathway to deal with changes and defects. it works. and frankly, as someone who has chosen to be an american, why don’t those individuals who have lost the meaning of america, stroll the national cemetery in westwood, or better yet, walk amongst the graves at the brockton american cemetary, in england or in the north of france, the oise – aisne cemetery. all dedicated to the the men who died for our… Read more »

blueeyedboy
blueeyedboy
2 years ago

No, Woody McBreairty, what could reasonably be perceived when an American doesn’t say the pledge of allegiance or show respect for the national anthem is that that American indeed has no appreciation or respect for his country. You are not making a declaration of America’s perfection when you do so, but you are merely acknowledging that you have rights and opportunities that are unique to this country from its founding, including the right of dissent. Of course, no one should be forced to participate in this ritual (unless it is a condition of your employment, as is the case with… Read more »

JJ
JJ
2 years ago

After what happened last night in Las Vegas, Lauren Meister’s question…I can’t even…
just stop. Enough of this crap already. Love your neighbor. That’s it.

Woody McBreairty
Woody McBreairty
2 years ago

@Mike King: It is not so that in EACH, the victim had a knife or a gun. Many were unarmed. Comparing people peacefully exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms to rapist & murderers is pathetic.
@blueeyedboy Your statement that it was protesters from the last 200 years “who died so you could have that right” makes my point.
Free people are allowed to demonstrate their expressions of appreciation, or not, in whatever way they choose. Different strokes for different folks

Joshua88
Joshua88
2 years ago

If you are taking a knee to protest police brutality and racism, by all means, yes. If you are taking a stand against Mr Trump being an a**hole, link arms. If you don’t think the US is living up to the ideals the flag/anthem purportedly symbolize, do something to improve our tiny little piece of the country.

blueeyedboy
blueeyedboy
2 years ago

Crusader, you acknowledge we live in a great country, so what is it you are dissenting or protesting against by not saying the pledge of allegiance or standing for the national anthem? An observer of you would assume you hate this country. Effective dissent or protest should leave no question to observers of you exactly what it is with which you take issue.

Rob Bergstein
Rob Bergstein
2 years ago

City Council: No.
Individual Councilmembers who feel moved to do so: Absolutely

Crusader
2 years ago

I stopped reciting the Pledge in elementary school more than 45 years ago in Anaheim, California, and was threatened with an unsatisfactory grade in Citizenship as a result.

My parents intervened (evidently, the school was unaware of my constitutional rights or a 1940s Supreme Court ruling) and the teacher backed down!

Public officials should do what they want at meetings to peacefully protest or show their support for something. It is NOT disrespecting our great country, flag or songs, but actually SHOWING what a great country we are, in the form of permitting dissent!

Manny
Manny
2 years ago

I wasn’t born in this country, and sometimes I feel I’m more grateful about living here than some that were.

I guess I feel that way because, considering the alternative, I know how lucky I am.
(It’s a long story)

When I stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance I do it because of my personal gratitude and because I’m humbled and inspired by the totality of what this country stands for.

I stand because our freedom gives me hope and encourages our ability to do better.

For me, this is still the greatest country in the world.

I’ll stand.

blueeyedboy
blueeyedboy
2 years ago

Woody McBreairty, those football players have an employer who can require, as a condition of their employment, that they withhold their grievances to when they are on their own time. And the public and fans have had enough and are telling them to stand. When I worked for LA County we were instructed to not discuss politics with our coworkers because it could be divisive. There is nothing contradictory in standing with hand over heart to show appreciation that you live in a country where you can protest all you want and air your grievances to anyone who will listen.… Read more »

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