In a video obtained by NBC Connecticut on July 16, Haddam, Connecticut, Selectwoman Melissa J. Schlag took a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance at a Board of Selectmen meeting.
Schlag is chair of the Democrats’ town committee and was elected to her position last November after losing the re-election for first selectwoman.
This method of protest, according to Fox News, took place just hours after Trump’s comments on the controversial summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, regarding the Mueller investigation and alleged Russian election interference.
“I thought, ‘no better time’ to protest what’s going on in our country than that evening at a Board of Selectmen meeting,” Schlag said to NBC Connecticut.
According to NBC Connecticut, Schlag claimed that her decision to kneel during the Pledge of Allegiance, mimicking the protests in the NFL, was not intended as a negative response to our country, but rather to President Donald Trump himself.
“I felt nervous when I did it but I also felt powerful,” Schlag said to the Hartford Courant. “If I don’t speak up, those who can’t won’t be heard.”
The Democratic lawmaker has received plenty of backlash for her actions.
“The Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t have anything to do with the flag, in my opinion,” Schlag said to FOX61. “I believe in our country. I love our flag and the United States of America.”
However, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Herbst, former Trumbull, Connecticut, mayor, described Schlag’s act of protest as “appalling” and has demanded she resign.
“She needs to resign immediately,” Herbst stated on “Fox & Friends.”
“One of the things the flag stands for—it stands for our freedom, it stands for our democracy. It stands for the fundamental ideal that we can have differences of opinion, but we all stand in respect of our flag because many people, including my 93-year-old grandfather who’s a veteran, fought in defense of the very liberty that the flag resembles.”
Herbst continued by pointing out the last eight years of Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy’s administration, stating that they have had a “complete lack of respect” for our country.
“When Barack Obama was president, I didn’t vote for him. I wasn’t happy about it, but I respected the office of president, and I think people need to respect the office of president,” Herbst said.
President Trump has faced a tremendous amount of backlash following his summit and press conference with Putin, where Trump initially seemed to believe Putin’s claim that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election. He later denied that belief.
According to Fox News, this wasn’t Schlag’s first protest against the flag. From 2013 to 2015, Schlag had both the American and Connecticut flags removed from her office when she served as first selectwoman.
“Both flags were taken down because I rearranged the furniture and I put a bookcase where the flags were,” Schlag explained to FOX61.
Despite all claims, Schlag still claims that her most recent protest was not intended to display hatred towards our country or veterans.
“I didn’t kneel because I hated my country,” Schlag said to the Hartford Courant. “I knelt because I love my country.”
Schlag decided to respond to the backlash she has received with a two-page letter posted to Facebook.
Haddam’s current first selectwoman, Lizz Milardo (R), disagrees with Schlag’s actions and said the next meeting will take place in a firehouse to leave room for the larger crowd expected to show up in response to Schlag’s protest.
“Her personal opinion and her personal protest I don’t feel belongs at one of our town meetings,” Milardo stated.
And still, Schlag believes this negative feedback over her protest is simply “evidence of a deep political divide,” according to NBC Connecticut.
“The vitriol that has been displayed on Facebook over the past two days, and on my Selectman page across Facebook, is proof that this country is so divided, but screaming at people from behind a keyboard does not get us anywhere,” Schlag stated.
Meanwhile, Schlag said she intends to continue kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance.
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