Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) Several members of the Missoula City Council on Monday night declined to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance but rather, they sat at their desk waiting for the meeting to begin, each in silent protest of a personal cause.

It’s not the first time the same three members have opted to sit for the nation’s ultimate “statement of loyalty.” When asked for comment, council members Kristen Jordan, Jennifer Savage and Daniel Carlino described their decision to sit as a form of speech and one lashed out at the media.

Their full statements are posted below.

“I stand for peace,” Daniel Carlino told the Missoula Current. “I stand for climate justice. I stand for humanity.”

Carlino, who declined to elaborate, has remained seated during the pledge each of the past two Mondays. Council member Kristen Jordan also remained seated on Monday night. She said she supports the nation’s veterans but takes offense to the Pledge’s statement of “liberty and justice for all,” calling it “not true.”

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“Local, state, and federal governments are currently passing legislation that means my daughters and I do not have bodily autonomy, legislation that erases America’s history of oppression toward our BIPoC neighbors, legislation outlawing the word ‘gay,’ legislation that bans essential medical care for trans children and adults, legislation where it is better to be rich and guilty than poor and innocent, ‘License to Discriminate’ healthcare bills, legislation further taking away rights of sovereign Native Nations, legislation criminalizing houselessness, and the list goes on,” Jordan said.

Jordan said it was little more than “clickbait” for the media to note those Missoula council members who sit for the pledge. She was also critical of the Missoula Current’s hybred coverage of City Council meetings – an option the city enacted in 2021.

Council members Kristen Jordan, Daniel Carlino and Jennifer Savage. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file images)
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Council members Kristen Jordan, Daniel Carlino and Jennifer Savage. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file images)
“I stand for gender equity, climate activism, women’s rights, trans rights, science, democracy, public lands, healthcare for all, and representative democracy – justice equity, diversity, and inclusion,” Jordan said. “Until there is justice and liberty for all, I will not stand for the Pledge. And it has nothing to do with my unwavering support for our Veterans. Shame on you.”

Savage, who represents Ward 1 on the Missoula City Council, has been sitting during the Pledge for more than a year, dating back to when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Savage has been vocal since that decision was made and has been critical of its impacts, saying it left her powerless in a country that doesn’t see her or her daughters as whole people with full rights to their own bodies.

“After much thought, I decided to use the limited local platform I have as a city councilor to register a small protest against a government that doesn’t see anyone with a uterus as a full citizen,” Savage said. “Each week, I sit and remember what we’ve lost. I sit in quiet protest of a decision that makes me unequal under the law.”

Savage added that her decision to sit during the pledge doesn’t reflect her support for America’s veterans.

“I fully support and respect the people who have fought and died for our country. And I support and respect people including police officers and firefighters who work on the ground every day for justice in our community,” she said. “But at the core of American democracy is the federally protected right to protest and when I sit during the pledge, I am exercising that right because, unlike the federally protected right to choose, the right to protest is a right I still have.”

Elected officials who have occasionally protested the pledge have been widely reported on, including members of the New York Senate and several members of the New York City Council. When several members of that body sat for the pledge, CBS reported it as an “unusual protest of an elected body of government officials.”

However, members of the veteran community have noted the Missoula council members’ protest of the Pledge. Jerry Webb, a Marine and Desert Storm veteran, described it as a shameful display and a slap in the face to those who served.

“People have fought and died for this country, sacrificed time with their families and answered the call to service, and they (council members) can’t stand for 20 seconds to pledge their allegiance to America?” Webb said. “America isn’t perfect, but what they’re doing is disgraceful and embarrassing to Missoula.”

The city on Monday night said there was no policy regarding participation in the Pledge.

“The city does not have a position,” Mayor Jordan Hess told the Missoula Current after Monday night’s meeting. “Council members Jordan and Carlino are exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Statements

Ward 1 council member Jennifer Savage

“I have been sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance at City Council meetings since June 24, 2022 when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, I felt powerless in a country that doesn’t see me or my daughters as whole people with full rights to our own bodies. So, after much thought, I decided to use the limited local platform I have a city councilor to register a small protest against a government that doesn’t see anyone with a uterus as a full citizen.

I spent years working as an abortion counselor. I remember the mom of three who worked at a gas station in Butte. I remember the 42-year-old mom of two who had just seen her youngest child graduate from high school and I remember the 14-year-old who wondered where, exactly, was her uterus. I held their hands. I heard their stories. But what I did for them was small, momentary compared to what they did for me.

There is nothing more holy than the unbridled power of a person making the right choice for themselves with full autonomy over their own body. That space is sacred and I was humbled to be invited into it week after week. For me, these experiences in the soft light of procedure rooms on quiet mornings make what we all lost the day of the Dobbs decision even more striking. So, each week, I sit and remember what we’ve lost. I sit in quiet protest of a decision that makes me unequal under the law.

I fully support and respect the people who have fought and died for our country. And I support and respect people including police officers and firefighters who work on the ground every day for justice in our community. But at the core of American democracy is the federally protected right to protest and when I sit during the pledge, I am exercising that right because, unlike the federally protected right to choose, the right to protest is a right I still have.”

Ward 6 council member Kristen Jordan

“Mr. Kidston, your deduction that my not standing for the pledge has to do with not supporting Veterans is false and another example of your poor reporting. Again.

If you were to attend City Council meetings, you would see that Mr. Carlino and I are not the only ones sitting during this time.

Your deduction is not news, but history has shown that you are more than willing to write deliberately inaccurate articles for clickbait.

I fully support our Veterans. It takes a lot of courage and love for our country for someone to put their life on the line to fight for the representative democracy that we all enjoy as Americans.

The Pledge of Allegiance states that there is “liberty and justice for all,” which is not true. Local, state, and federal governments are currently passing legislation that means my daughters and I do not have bodily autonomy, legislation that erases America’s history of oppression toward our BIPoC neighbors, legislation outlawing the word “gay,” legislation that bans essential medical care for trans children and adults, legislation where it is better to be rich and guilty than poor and innocent, “License to Discriminate” healthcare bills, legislation further taking away rights of sovereign Native Nations, legislation criminalizing houselessness, and the list goes on.

I stand for gender equity, climate activism, women’s rights, trans rights, science, democracy, public lands, healthcare for all, and representative democracy- justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Until there is justice and liberty for all, I will not stand for the pledge. And it has nothing to do with my unwavering support for our Veterans.

Shame on you.”

Ward 3 council member Daniel Carlino

“I stand for peace. I stand for climate justice. I stand for humanity.”

 

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