Some elected officials in Haddam are standing their ground for “free speech” while take a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance.
The controversial act is splitting the town and trending on social media, with some angry and agitated that their elected officials are doing what NFL players did last year -- kneeling in protest of actions by the white house.
The July 16 recorded meeting of the Haddam Board of Selectman by Valley Shore Community Television starts with a Pledge of Allegiance.
While other’s stand and place their hands over their heart, Selectman Melissa Schlag kneels in silence with her eyes gaze down to the floor.
“I just started kneeling last Monday in response to (President) Trump’s statements at the Russian summit in Helsinki,” Schlag said in a phone interview with Channel 3.
In the interview, she said she posted a position paper on her Facebook page that explains why she knelt.
“The second reason is I’m an environmental advocate and I feel great sorrow over the AG Regions Acts that are happening to our environment under this administration,” she said.
She added that the reaction is brutal on social media, and many are not her constituents.
“People have asked me ‘where do you live? You’re going to pay for this’,” Schlag said. “I don’t kneel because I hate my country. I kneel because I love my country.”
“I think it’s everybody’s personal preference. I don’t agree with it,” said Maureen Adduci, of Haddam.
Schlag isn’t the only one taking a knee. Board of Education member Maura Wallin, the daughter of a veteran and ex-Navy wife, said she did it to support her daughter, a Latina who wanted to kneel.
In a statement, Wallin said “my child saw injustice in the world that is aimed at people who look like her and I want all of my children and all adults and children of color to know they have an ally in me.”
Board of Education Chair Joanne Nesti said “these are personal positions and opinions held by individual board members. They do not represent the positions or opinions of Regional School District 17 or the board of education.”
“For somebody not to stand up for the flag? I don’t stand for it, I don’t believe in it,” said Ray Bogdan, a U.S. Navy veteran.
It is unclear if those who knelt recently at their council or board of education meeting will be doing it at the next meeting.
Copyright 2018 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.