A New York City councilman sat down during the Pledge of Allegiance at City Hall Wednesday to protest police brutality, Newsday reports.
Councilman Jumaane Williams, a Democrat, said he is supporting San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is kneeling during the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Other black athletes have done the same.
“I’m no less American right now than I was the day I was born in this country that I love very much, and I’m no less patriotic,” Williams said. “I reject all of those notions that somehow the national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance are connected to the sole definition of patriotism.”
The rest of the council stood during the pledge, but Williams remained seated with a bowed head. Williams has not recited the pledge since he was a schoolboy, Newsday reports.
Councilman Eric Ulrich of Queens, one of three Republicans in the 51-member council, called the protests “not appropriate.”
“Why they feel the need to disrespect our country this way is beyond me,” Ulrich said in the City Hall rotunda. The pledge embodies “everything good that America represents, so I don’t know why he would choose to sit down. That’s his right to, I suppose.”