HADDAM, Conn. (WTNH) – It was an explosive board of selectmen meeting in Haddam Monday night with Selectwoman Melissa Schlag coming under fire for kneeling during the Pledge of Alleriance.
Video of the Democratic selectwoman kneeling at a meeting last month has gone viral around the country. Schlag said she felt the need to make a statement after watching President Trump’s news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The protest caused a firestorm which continued Monday night with some members of the public berating and booing each other or Schalg.
“I think you went to college, you should get a refund because you didn’t learn anything,” a Haddam man told Schalg.
A combat veteran who lost 18 members in his platoon said kneeling has no place in elected office.
“What you did is urinate on all of their graves,” he said.
The veteran’s speech to Schlag and the crowd earned a standing ovation.
Some showed up for public comment supported the selectwoman’s stance.
“We are glad that you represent us,” a Haddam man said. “Sometimes it takes leadership to do something that isn’t popular.”
Opponents of Schlag rallied before the meeting on the town green which was covered with flags.
“Disgust, absolute disgust for her actions,” Glen Salamane told News 8.
“A long time ago, my father who served in the Navy warned me about people like this,” Steven Banalatta said. “Now, I’m dealing with them in my own town and it’s disheartening.”
Republican candidates for governor also made their viewpoints known. Tim Herbst took to national airwaves to do so.
“Any person who kneels for the flag, Democrat or Republican, who is a public official, should resign,” Herbst told News 8.
At the same time opponents of Schlag rallied, supporters defended her and the First Amendment.
“The criticism levied against people who support the First Amendment is hypocritical, un-American,” Christine Palm, a Democratic candidate for state representative said.
“Melissa is a hard worker, a good person and I don’t see any reason why anyone would think any different,” Timothy Morriao added.
Morriao said two Republican board of education members took a knee during the pledge, but they are not making the headlines for it.