JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Sen. Jamilah Nasheed broke Senate rules during the opening minutes of veto session by sitting through the Pledge of Allegiance.
After the benediction, Nasheed, D-St. Louis, sat in her chair, despite an indirect warning from Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder that “rules will be followed.”
Nasheed said in a statement that she sat to show solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has recently knelt during the national anthem at games to protest injustice against the black community.
“I am not anti-America, and in fact, it is because I love this country that I take this stand,” Nasheed said. “I am doing so not because of past transgressions by America, but to call attention to current injustices here in this state and country.”
Some of the injustices she cited included police brutality, voter suppression by voter ID laws, mass incarceration and unequal pay for women.
Kinder also released a statement just after Nasheed sat.
“My reaction to Sen. Nasheed’s demonstration is not one of indignation or anger,” he said. “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.”
Republican gubernatorialnominee Eric Greitens also chimed in with his thoughts on Nasheed’s protest with a statement.
“We live in the greatest country on earth because we have men and women willing to give their lives so Americans, even politicians, can exercise their constitutional rights no matter how much I disagree with them,” Greitens said. “Any politician who gets elected by the American people to serve them and gets paid by them to do their work should stand up and give our flag, our country, and our people the respect they deserve.”
Nasheed said that both the national anthem and the Pledge are about American ideals, more so than what it is.
“‘Liberty and justice for all’ are not just words – they are our country’s ideals,” she said. “We must commit ourselves to honoring those principles not just by speech, but also through our actions.”
UPDATED 8:08 p.m.: Comments from Greitens added.