Mayor from Colorado asked objectors in meeting if there was “something that doesn’t permit me to do this?”
Shane Fuhrman outlined his rationale at the town hall meeting in Silverton, a town with an estimated population of 550 people. It is believed that Mr Fuhrman has intended to get rid the tradition for some time. In the meeting, he justified his decision by saying it was causing “threats” and “general divisiveness, according to a video of the meeting.
He said: “Due to direct and indirect threats, inappropriate comments in and out of public meetings, and the general divisiveness this is creating in our community, we will not be doing the Pledge of Allegiance during Town of Silverton board of trustee meetings.”
He did not go into detail about the threats that led to this decision, but in 2018 a meeting attendee was charged with verbally harassing another person present who opted not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Molly Barella, a trustee of the town expressed his displeasure with the decision: “We already discussed this as a board, any other unilateral decisions we need to know about?”
Mr Fuhrman retorted that he was exercising his mayoral authority by making this announcement, asking Ms Barella if there was “something that doesn’t permit me to do this?” and if so, he asked her to bring it to his attention.
Ms Barella cited convention, saying the Pledge of Allegiance had been recited in meetings for “a long time”.
“We all took an oath and we decided as a board it would be done,” she added.
In a statement to KDVR, Ms Barella said Mr Fuhrman’s choice scrap it went against her First Amendment rights.
“Now Mayor Shane Fuhrman has made this a First Amendment rights’ issue. To tell members of the public, they are not allowed to say the Pledge of Allegiance during public comment,” Ms Barella said.
She also told the news outlet that there had been a prior vote about the Pledge of Allegiance. It was carried out during a board meeting via Zoom in spring 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. A subsequent vote followed, that her side won narrowly; four votes for versus three against.
It is believed that she stood for the pledge regardless of Mr Fuhrman’s ruling, alongside 10 other people. Mr Fuhrman called this “out of order”, according to reporting by The Journal newspaper.
They also reported that since 3 May, Mr Fuhrman and another unnamed member of the board had both refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Conservative congresswoman Lauren Boebert weighed in on the mayor’s decision online when she posted video footage of the board meeting, calling it “anti-American”.
She wrote on Twitter, “Silverton, CO’s Mayor unilaterally banned the Pledge of Allegiance at city meetings. It’s hard to put into words what kind of anti-American disgrace this is. Mayor Fuhrman should resign and purchase a one-way ticket to China where he won’t have worry about hearing the pledge!”
She continued, “Mayor Fuhrman should resign and purchase a one-way ticket to China where he won’t have worry about hearing the pledge!”