February 20, 2019
The mayor of Durham praised a 10-year-old boy when he knelt during the Pledge of Allegiance at a city council meeting.
Liam Holmes was caught on camera as he dropped down to his knee when the council invited Liam's Cub Scout pack to lead the pledge.
The pre-teen later told reporters that he is proud to be a Cub Scout, but he had to take a knee "against racial discrimination."
He explained: "[Racial discrimination] is basically when people are mean to other people of different colors."
His father, Scott Holmes, said he had discussed it with Liam before the meeting but wasn't sure if Liam understood it, or if he would follow through with it.
The proud father added: "When he did it I was really surprised and also really proud of him. No one saw it except the people that were watching."
Mayor Steve Schewel thanked young Liam for expressing his conscience by kneeling and said the city endorses and appreciates the action.
However, not everyone shared his sentiments. Brandon LaRoque, a lifelong Cub Scout, said there is no place for politics in the Cub Scouts:
"Part of the scout oath is to God and your country, and I understand people have the right to freedom of speech. I just don't understand why it has to be during the Pledge of Allegiance."
Schewel said he disagrees with those who say Liam is too young to understand what he was doing, and added:
"At a very young age, you can be a moral person and stand up for what you believe in," Schewel observed, adding that kneeling at the flag is a right anyone has. One of the things that we have to really be aware of is what our flag really stands for."
He added that the flag stands for freedom of individual expression and freedom to express one's conscience, and those qualities need to be supported no matter what.
For his part, Liam said that won't be the last time he takes a knee during the pledge: "I just like the idea of it, and now, I just feel like doing it every time when we do the Pledge of Allegiance."
Taking the knee during the pledge of allegiance gained traction when football quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner."
He explained: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."