‘It shows a twisted moral code to oppress the right to honor a flag that stands for freedom from oppression…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he disagrees with the Bladen County Board of Elections’s decision to ban the Pledge of Allegiance from their meetings, according to The Robesonian.
The Bladen County Board of Elections voted 3-2, with the Democrats in the majority, to prohibit individuals from reciting the pledge. The board’s chairwoman, Louella Thompson, even said she’d ask law enforcement to physically remove anyone who attempts to recite it.
Cooper said the decision was unnecessary and reminded his party that he still leads the Pledge of Allegiance before every Council of the State meeting.
U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop said in a statement that he, too, was “appalled” that Bladen County would go to such lengths to prevent citizens from reciting the pledge at the board’s meetings.
“It shows a twisted moral code to oppress the right to honor a flag that stands for freedom from oppression,” Bishop said.
Even after the council voted against the pledge, a group of individuals attending the meeting stood and began to recite it. Thompson called this a “disruption” and threatened attendees that a similar act in the future “would result in arrest.”
Daine Smith, a longtime Bladen County resident, spoke up against Thompson’s decision and said that reciting the pledge is a “right.” He then led the group of attendees in an impromptu recitation.
“When I spoke to the chairperson I said, ‘You have an opportunity here to create a sense of unity and it’s easy to do; just add it to the agenda. If you don’t want to recite it or stand for it, you don’t have to, but the folks who do want to do that, have the opportunity to do so,'” he told WECT-Channel 6. “Then I just thought while I was standing, ‘We should just say the pledge.’ So we did.”
The mostly rural county was at the center of a national storm following the 2018 congressional election amid accusations of a widespread voter-fraud ring.
While the focus of the ensuing investigation was on the election’s GOP winner, Mark Harris, evidence revealed that Democrats—likely including Cooper—had also benefited from local ballot-harvesting operations, which tied back to past members of the county elections board.
Bishop, who replaced Harris in a special election do-over, ultimately won the race for the NC09 congressional district.
Thompson, the current board chair, has faced criticism multiple times for participating in blatant political bias and posting disparaging comments about President Donald Trump on social media.
The state’s board of elections ultimately dismissed complaints about Thompson, but only after a tight vote on the matter.
“This is something we need to address going into an election year,” state board member Ken Raymond said in December. “We cannot have board members who appear to be incapable of performing their duties in an impartial and nonpartisan manner.”
Smith said Thompson’s refusal to acknowledge the pledge is yet another example of political bias, since none of the other reasons she’s presented have made sense.
“The passion that the people on both sides of the aisle share is precisely what their passion is,” he said. “It’s for the flag, at its root, and the pledge. It’s [the flag] caught in the middle of this thing and all of the reasons for not doing that have been presented by the board are just not good reasons.”