Did a City in Ilhan Omar’s District Eliminate the Pledge of Allegiance at Council Meetings?

Headlines attempted to connect the factual actions of a local Minnesota city council to U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, despite her being wholly uninvolved.

  • Published 9 July 2019

Claim

A city in U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s congressional district voted to eliminate the pledge of allegiance before city council meetings.

Rating

What's True

The five-person city council of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, which is located in Rep. Ilhan Omar's U.S. congressional district, voted to stop saying the pledge of allegiance before most city council meetings.

What's False

The implication fostered by headlines and social media that Ilhan Omar was in any way involved in that decision is false.

Origin

On June 30, 2019, the conservative commentary site Daily Wire (along with several other news outlets) ran a story with an entirely factual headline: “City In Ilhan Omar’s Congressional District Votes To Eliminate Pledge Of Allegiance For Meetings.” The city in question was St. Louis Park. That city is, as well-documented in Daily Wire’s reporting, located in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. And that district is indeed represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Ilhan Omar, an immigrant from Somalia and one of the few Muslims serving in Congress.

Omar, whose name is often invoked for the purpose of fomenting Islamophobic fear mongering, had nothing to do with this decision. That decision was made by five individuals who are not Ilhan Omar, as described in local news report from June 26:

“In order to create a more welcoming environment to a diverse community, we are going to forgo saying the Pledge of Allegiance before every meeting,” said Council Member Tim Brausen. At the meeting, Brausen said members might recite it in the future if there’s an appropriate opportunity, like if Boy Scouts are there. … The change was approved unanimously by city council in a 5 to 0 vote. It will take effect on July 15.

Still, Daily Wire’s social media postings misleadingly combined Omar’s name and face with a quote from someone (St. Louis Park Ward 2 council member Anne Mavity) who is not Omar:

This led many readers and social media users to accuse Omar of disrespecting America, at times producing not-so-veiled threats against her life on Daily Wire’s own Facebook page:

As accurately stated in these articles, five city council members in St Louis Park voted to stop saying the pledge of allegiance before most city council meetings. None of those people, despite gratuitous use of her name and image in social media and in headlines, was Ilhan Omar.

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