August 29, 2014 4:25 pm -

A Florida Mayor asked police to remove a man from a city commission meeting on Thursday night because he refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer.  “I just said, ‘Either stand or go in the hallway.’ He wouldn’t,”Mayor John Rees said. “It wasn’t premeditated. I just reacted. It hit me. I said it. I gave him an option…Life will go on.”

[su_center_ad]According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Mayor of Winter Garden said he considered the man’s refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance to be disrespectful to American military troops who are serving overseas and others who have given their lives in defense of freedom.

Next he will be removing people for not wearing flag pins.

The man was identified as 51-year-old Joseph Richardson.

The video shows Rees asking everyone to stand first for the invocation, to which Richardson says, “I don’t think I have to.”

At that point Commissioner Bobby Olszewski offered the invocation, asking for a blessing on the citizens and city staff. “We thank you for allowing us to be in country where we’re free to believe and think and pray,” he said.

Ironically, it was right after that prayer that Rees addressed Richardson who was seated.

“Now, sir, please stand while we do the pledge. You don’t have to say it, but please stand,” he said.

When Richardson didn’t stand, Rees spoke to Police Chief George A. Brennan.

“Chief? Ask him to either stand or please escort him out ’til we get through the Pledge,” the mayor said.

The police chief approached Richardson who was still seated and asked, “What are you going to do?”

Rees said he recognized Richardson from previous meetings. “He doesn’t come to the meetings because he cares about the city,” Rees said.


H/T: My pal @MiAtheistGal with thanks.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

57 responses to Florida Mayor Orders Police To Remove Man Who Won’t Stand During Pledge Of Allegiance And Prayer

  1. JT Orlando August 29th, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    I tweeted this earlier today. So long, First Amendment — nice knowing ya.

  2. Maxx44 August 29th, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    The right wing gets all teary-eyed over the constitution until it doesn’t suit them to follow it.

  3. edmeyer_able August 29th, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    allowing us to be in country where we’re free to believe and think and pray,” he said.


    Luves me sum ”small goobermint” freedum!

  4. RockyMissouri August 29th, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Conservatives want us to all worship the same…. That’s WRONG…!!

    • Larry Schmitt August 29th, 2014 at 9:33 pm

      They want us all to worship. THAT’S wrong.

      • RockyMissouri August 29th, 2014 at 11:11 pm

        You are EXACTLY RIGHT…!!

  5. R.J. Carter August 29th, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Pretty sure he was sent out for not wearing a long sleeve pale blue shirt.

    Other than that, seems he wanted attention and got it.

    • MIAtheistGal August 29th, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      You’re right, he was seeking attention. So that everyone could see this egregious assault on his civil liberties.

      • Dwendt44 August 29th, 2014 at 5:18 pm

        Hope he sues the city for a bundle.

    • Larry Schmitt August 29th, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      Sometimes you have to get attention to make a point.

    • Anomaly 100 August 29th, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      He should wear a suit like Obama wore yesterday. That’ll go over big.

    • Jeff Allen August 29th, 2014 at 7:11 pm

      LOL, I noticed that too. It’s probably a good bet they all have khaki slacks, blue blazers and red ties. The official Alex P. Keaton uniform.

    • greenfloyd August 30th, 2014 at 12:09 am

      Thanks to a very clueless mayor…

  6. Larry Schmitt August 29th, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I wish every level of government would cease already with the prayers before every meeting. If you asked every American adult whether he prayed regularly, and he answered truthfully, the overwhelming majority would say no. And the pledge is nothing more than a bunch of words that we memorized as kids, and don’t think about it when we’re saying it. Everyone says it with exactly the same rhythm (you can hear it in your head right now). How old were you when you found out what indivisible meant? Enough with the empty words.

    • MIAtheistGal August 29th, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      I think the addition of ‘under god’ to the pledge in 1956 has divided us far more than it ever could unite us. You can’t bring people together by excluding everyone who doesn’t believe in god, or believes in multiple gods.

      • Larry Schmitt August 29th, 2014 at 4:57 pm

        Without or without “under god,” it’s still empty words. And the mayor is full of crap when he says “it’s not fair to our troops.”

        • Dwendt44 August 29th, 2014 at 5:19 pm

          Some factions of christianity forbid saying oaths and pledges. If they get a pass, we all should.

          • Larry Schmitt August 29th, 2014 at 5:21 pm

            I just think it’s as meaningless as a loyalty oath. Saying it or not saying it doesn’t prove or disprove your patriotism.

          • tiredoftea August 29th, 2014 at 6:53 pm

            Wait, what? It doesn’t? I thought my flag pins proved my patriotism? Now what am I going to do with them and my flag boxers and briefs? What now? How will I prove my patriotism?

          • greenfloyd August 30th, 2014 at 12:07 am

            Go nude… streak em out… “Now there goes a true patriot!”

          • tiredoftea August 30th, 2014 at 12:26 am

            There’s an idea. I could paint a flag on my butt, for patriotic purposes only, of course.

          • raincheck August 30th, 2014 at 5:00 pm

            Of course..

          • Larry Schmitt August 29th, 2014 at 6:27 pm

            Any “requirement” to stand and/or say the pledge has no force of law. If it’s a private function, they can toss you out, but the mayor had no right to throw this guy out, as it was a government function. And obviously, the same goes for the prayer, which has no business there in the first place.

          • RockyMissouri August 29th, 2014 at 11:12 pm

            WELL SAID…!!

      • RockyMissouri August 29th, 2014 at 11:14 pm


    • R.J. Carter August 29th, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Where’s Red Skelton when we need him?

      We start each school session off with the pledge. Bought a smallish flag for it and everything.

      • Larry Schmitt August 29th, 2014 at 5:20 pm

        I have to agree with you on Red. His version is the only one that you felt actually meant something. But people aren’t going to say it that way every time.

  7. PunkAssPro August 29th, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Clearly this Mayor is a Liberal (Non Partison my ass) ………..,_Florida

    • PunkAssPro August 29th, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      Clearly this mayor has a liberal agenda……

      • Anomaly 100 August 29th, 2014 at 6:01 pm

        Where do you get ‘liberal’ from? God, you aren’t even a good troll.

        • Kick Frenzy August 29th, 2014 at 8:32 pm

          Yeah, I was confused about what the hell he was trying to say and whether it was sarcastic or if I was missing something, but nope…
          I think he’s confusing two different people named “John Rees”.

          That second link leads to a page with the three stories at top about the Mayor from Florida… the stories below that are about some counter-culture guy.

        • Tommy6860 August 29th, 2014 at 9:33 pm

          It’s takes a really special kind of stupid to troll incorrectly!

          • Anomaly 100 August 29th, 2014 at 11:56 pm

            Lately we’re getting a lower class of trolls. I’d respect one if they were at least good at it.

  8. Guy Lauten August 29th, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Mayor just cost the city a bundle.

  9. Jeff Allen August 29th, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    I think it was a jerk move on the part of the mayor. However, agree with him or not, he has the authority as chair of the meeting/assembly to remove anyone he deems disruptive. Again, you may not agree that the guy was disruptive, I don’t think he was. In fact he was polite and compliant throughout the ordeal, but parliamentary priocedure allows the chair the latitude. If the folks of that town think as most of us do, that the mayor was being hypocritical at best, tyrannical at worst, their recourse is to vote him out of office.

    • teloiv August 29th, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      The fact that the mayor is an elected official matters not; NO ONE has the authority to trample on the civil rights of another citizen. This is exactly what the pinhead idiot mayor did. To say that not to stand for the pledge is disrespectful to our military/soldiers is BS. The old “you should feel guilty for not believing as I do” guilt trip. The citizen caused NO disruption; the mayor was the cause of the disturbance. I look forward to the ACLU teaching that mindless batch of councilmen a lesson.

      • Jeff Allen August 30th, 2014 at 1:34 am

        You have to step back and put the incident in it’s proper context. As I said, the mayor made a jerk move and should pay for it at the voting booth. He did not however violate anyone’s civil rights. The meeting was an open meeting, Mr. Richardson’s attendance was neither compulsory, nor in an official capacity. Therefore the chair of a meeting has the authority to maintain proper order as he/she sees fit. Meetings such as these are governed by Roberts Rules of Order and although not a legal authority in and of itself, it is the standard by which all parliamentary proceedings (town meetings) are governed. Mr. Richardson will have no legal recourse since he was not mandated to attend, specifically invited, nor was his position of an official nature (member). That allowed Mayor Blue Shirt to make a judgment call, a stupid one, but a judgment call nonetheless. We need to let general asshattery be adjudicated at the voting booth when it comes to moronic decisions such as the mayors.

    • greenfloyd August 29th, 2014 at 11:55 pm

      …and show up at the next meeting and refuse… rinse, repeat. This could catch on!

      • Jeff Allen August 30th, 2014 at 1:23 am

        I’m quite certain he won’t be alone at the next meeting.

    • Julie K. McCarty August 30th, 2014 at 1:39 am

      Sitting quietly during an invocation and/or pledge is not ‘disruptive’. Maybe you should go look up the word. I don’t care about ‘procedure’, that is not in the rule of procedure during town hall meetings. Just because someone in the room sat quietly during the opening prayer or pledge, and the mayor did not like it, does not give you the right to ‘make them stand’ or throw them out. This is not a theocracy or a Nationalist State.

      • Jeff Allen August 30th, 2014 at 1:52 am

        Maybe you should read my posts. I said I disagreed with the mayors judgment, I even said this about Mr. Richardson “you may not agree that the guy was disruptive, I don’t think he was. In fact he was polite and compliant throughout the ordeal” You would do well to familiarize yourself with meeting protocol, Roberts Rules of Order, and the difference between the laws, procedures, and jurisdictional authority. You may not care about “procedures” but you should.

        • Julie K. McCarty August 30th, 2014 at 3:52 pm

          Maybe you should read this: The book is designed for use in ordinary societies rather than legislative assemblies, and it is the most commonly adopted parliamentary authority among societies in the United States.[2] The book claims to be a “codification of the present-day general parliamentary law (omitting provisions having no application outside legislative bodies)”.[3] This statement does not imply any approbation on the part of the courts, and the “general parliamentary law” is related neither to statutory legal requirements nor to common-law precedent derived from court judgments. As it is widely accepted and based for the most part on long-standing traditions of parliamentary procedure, the current edition of the book is considered a reliable reference[citation needed]. Nevertheless, the provisions of any particular manual are not, as a general matter, legally binding upon an assembly that has not formally adopted it as its parliamentary authority; any such manual can at best be cited as “persuasive”.[4] In addition, a number of changes have been made to recent editions, such as provisions dealing with videoconferences, teleconferences, and email, which now makes these editions more than merely codifications of the “present-day general parliamentary law” as existed at the time Robert was originally writing.

          So, please find the specific part within this book that states where this gentlemen was ‘out of order’? And then review the case law of Supreme Court decisions that says that people ca not be made to recite the Pledge.

          • Jeff Allen August 30th, 2014 at 5:01 pm

            Boy does someone have a comprehension problem. I agree with Mr. Richardson, I disagree with the mayor, got that? Can I make it any simpler? However, the point that I have been making, which continues to elude you, is that no matter our agreement or disagreement with Mr. Mayor, he acted within his authority as chair of an open meeting and in dealing with a non-member. “Out of Order” is a pure judgment call of the chair (I happen to think Mr. Mayor was being a jackass, but jackassery is not a crime, nor a civil rights violation). The sooner folks quit trying to legislate stupidity and exercise their greatest power, the power of the vote, and remove goofs like Mr. Mayor, the sooner the message is sent that jackassery will not be tolerated. On the other hand, we can knee-jerk run to court with this where it will be soundly thrown out and then embolden the stupidity even more. It is always better to think an issue through to it’s conclusion than to run off half-baked and only make a problem worse.

          • Julie K. McCarty September 2nd, 2014 at 1:45 am

            The guy who sat through the invocation was not part of the board! He was a member of the audience. Parliamentary procedure only applies to the members of the chair! Or did I read the book wrong? The one you cited? This is what I have been addressing the whole time. Maybe you could keep on track. You brought it up and then tried to use the qualifying verb: but, however, on the other hand.

            I never said anything about going on to a lawsuit. Using generalizations while talking to one person is a logic fail in argumentation. Don’t get pissed at me because I brought up and pointed out what you thought no one else would notice.

  10. uzza August 29th, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    The scary thing here is that the mayor told the cop to evict him, even though he had no legal right to do so, and the cop did it.
    They always do.
    What if he had said “Chief? Put six rounds into this gentleman’s head.”?

  11. Tommy6860 August 29th, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Who knew one couldn’t exercise their freedom from the freedoms of others O.o

  12. whatthe46 August 29th, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    “We thank you for allowing us to be in country where we’re free to believe and think and pray,” he said.
    unless i disagree with you wanting to express that freedom.

  13. Candide Thirtythree August 30th, 2014 at 5:29 am

    “We thank you for allowing us to be in country where we’re free to believe and think and pray,” ….. and where we can force our religion and beliefs on others who do not have the power to have people arrested.

    I hate christians more and more each day because they are getting more and more like Muslims every day… next they will be wanting to behead people for not praying or for pissing on a bible.

  14. bhil August 30th, 2014 at 10:34 am

    I think Jesus had some words about praying in public in Matthew 6:6, “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. “

    • Larry Schmitt August 30th, 2014 at 10:42 am

      That sounds like the NSA.

  15. raincheck August 30th, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    I think swearing in on the Bible…is just bizarre. The President is sworn in using the Bible… A little too cozy for that “Separation of Church and State” thing.. It is of course a Christian Bible..

    • atunionbob August 31st, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      NOT all presidents were sworn in on a bible. One used a book of laws. One used some thing else. So….

      • whatthe46 August 31st, 2014 at 7:09 pm

        why swear on the bible when you’re going to lie anyway?