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Councilwoman's Refusal To Say Pledge Prompts Backlash In Peekskill

Vanessa Agudelo
Vanessa Agudelo Photo Credit: File

City of Peekskill Councilwoman Vanessa Agudelo has come under criticism for her decision not to say the Pledge of Allegiance during Common Council meetings.

Agudelo, a Democrat on the city council for four months, was criticized at the Monday, April 23 meeting by a resident and blasted in this Facebook post by former Mayor Frank Catalina.

“Let me get this straight: An elected official cowardly stands while the Pledge is said but refuses to actually say the Pledge or even respectfully hold her hand over her heart; too young and immature to realize the significance of that pledge and showing respect for the millions who fought and died for her ‘right’ to be a moron and a poor example of a public official,” Catalina wrote on Facebook.

“Next time, and all the time, she should muster the backbone to fully exercise her ‘right’ by NOT standing, but to show her real ‘courage,’ petulance and ignorance, by sitting or taking a knee during the pledge rather than meekly posing,” he continued. “Let’s see if this coward shows that courage (or even shows up) at the solemn Memorial Day ceremony next month! I predict this extremist will retreat, hide her radicalism, and lack the real courage of her misguided convictions by ‘playing along’ with ‘rituals’from now on.”

Leesther Brown confronted Agudelo during the hearings of citizens portion of last week’s meeting and called on the city’s Ethics Board to investigate the consequences of Agudelo’s apparent stance.

“If you don’t want to take the Pledge, you need to step down,” Brown said. “Her personal belief has nothing to do with it when she’s sitting up at the dais. You have no right when you represent the City of Peekskill.”

Agudelo responded to Brown but declined to explain why she doesn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Agudelo promised to release a statement "on why I won’t say the Pledge and what’s it’s for. I do have my right,” she said. “I did say the Pledge of Allegiance when I was inaugurated out of respect for the ritual; that plays into the patriotism of the country.”

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