At the end of the Bladen County Board of Elections meeting, Democrat Louella Thompson stated that reciting the pledge was a disruption of a government meeting.
She said, “If that happens again law enforcement will be called. It is against the law to disrupt a meeting. That is going on and that is what happened today with the reciting of the pledge.”
Earlier in the meeting, the board had voted 3-2 along party lines against a proposal requesting the addition of the Pledge of Allegiance to its official agenda. The proposal was introduced by a Republican, Emory White.
“Being in the military, we honor the flag all the time in the military. I just think it should be on the agenda. There is no way we should have a meeting without it. It’s like having a prayer. Why do we object to the Pledge of Allegiance?” he asked.
When asked by the audience why she voted against the addition of the pledge, Thompson answered; “That’s my right, and I exercise it.”
One audience member, Dan Smith, opposed the board’s vote, stating: “You have an opportunity here to make a statement about what’s right and what’s wrong, and it’s right to say the pledge. It really is. If you don’t want to recite it, by all means don’t recite it. If you don’t want to stand up, by all means don’t stand up. But give the other people and opportunity to do so. And that’s not a lot to ask. That’s compromise, and that’s what we need in this country.”
Smith then started reciting the pledge, and was joined by half the audience.
A spokeswoman for Governor Roy Cooper told the Bladen Journal: “The Governor leads the Pledge of Allegiance before every Council of State meeting. He doesn’t agree with the action taken and he thinks it’s a good practice to say it before a Board of Elections meeting.”
Rep. Dan Bishop issued a press conference criticizing Thompson’s threat to involve law enforcement: “I was appalled that the Chairwoman of the Bladen County Board of Elections will prevent board members—on threat of arrest—from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. It shows a twisted moral code to oppress the right to honor a flag that stands for freedom from oppression. I stand with the board members who continue to revere and respect our flag and those who lost their lives defending it.”