When the St. Louis Park City Council meets on July 15 to consider routine topics like agenda planning and preferred purchasing policies, one part of the procedure will be slightly different: reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

City councilors in the city of 50,000 just west of downtown Minneapolis, voted unanimously last week to drop the pledge from their call to order in a bid to “create a more welcoming environment to a diverse community.”

“In order to create a more welcoming environment to a diverse community, we’re going to forego saying the Pledge of Allegiance before every meeting,” council member Tim Brausen said.

He was quick to add the pledge would still be recited on certain occasions. Brausen cited times when Boy Scouts attend a meeting as an example.

The change ― along with another approved motion to alter the starting time of council meetings ― was recommended by a study group seeking to boost citizen attendance at the sessions.

The city’s demographics are not strikingly diverse. According to U.S. Census estimates in July 2018, its non-Hispanic white population was 81%, with blacks comprising 7.7% Hispanics 3.8% and Asians 3.7%.

Residents interviewed by CBS Minnesota had mixed reactions to the nixing of the pledge, ranging from ambivalence to disappointment.

“In terms of what would offend people and what offends me, that’s not at the top of the list,” local business owner Ellen Hertz told the station.

Resident David Gohman disagreed with the council action, saying of the pledge: “I think it should be said every time, whether it is in school or meetings or whatever. We owe it to the country.”

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