JEEFERSON CITY — State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, sat down during the Pledge of Allegiance at the Missouri state capitol Wednesday.
“I decided to not stand for the pledge of allegiance today to stand in solidarity with the cause of injustice that Colin Kaepernick has shined a bright light upon. I am not anti-America, and in fact, it is because I love this country that I take this stand," she said in a statement.
"I just wanted to shine the light on these issues and stand alongside those NFL players that have really brought this conversation to fluition," Nasheed told KRCG13. "This conversation needs to happen."
Nasheed says she sat for a laundry list of reasons including:
The injustice of police brutality – the refusal to mandate police body cameras;
The injustice of poverty – the underfunding of our public schools;
The injustice of voter suppression – passing Voter ID laws;
The injustice of not having health care – not expanding Medicaid;
The injustice of unlivable wages – refusing to raise minimum wage and the right-to-work attack on labor;
The injustice of unequal pay for women;
The injustice of mass incarceration; and
The injustice of economic disparity.
“The pledge of allegiance and the national anthem stand not just for what America is, but for what it should be. ‘Liberty and justice for all’ are not just words – they are our country’s ideals. We must commit ourselves to honoring those principles not just by speech, but also through our actions.
“This is why I, as a matter of conscience, chose not to stand today.”
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder called Nasheed's choice "a decision of great sorrow."
He released the following statement as a response:
"“My reaction to Sen. Nasheed’s demonstration is not one of indignation or anger. Instead, it’s an occasion for great sorrow. The Pledge of Allegiance, like the National Anthem, is an occasion for all Americans to stand together in national unity. There is no question of the senator’s right to remain seated during the Pledge, but it’s a question of the propriety of her action. I worry about the example she is setting, particularly for our young people. I have stood with Sen. Nasheed on issues facing the African American community, fighting alongside her to restore funding for low-income housing tax credits in St. Louis, as one example. I believe our best hope for tackling the tough issues of racial unity and economic opportunity is through the shared commitment to the principles and ideals that make America great. Standing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and for the National Anthem symbolize our unity of purpose to keep America the ‘land of the free, the home of the brave, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’”
Nasheed was arrested in October 2014 after she and another man were asked multiple times to leave an area at which police said they were not allowed to protest.