Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – A Missouri House member from St. Louis is making a symbolic statement during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Democrat Bruce Franks Jr. stood with his right hand raised in a fist Wednesday while most of his colleagues held their hands over their hearts on the opening day of the legislative session.

Franks told The Associated Press he prefers “to pledge allegiance to the people.” Franks, who is black, says people who look like him and come from his area “are disproportionately affected by a lot of things.”

Franks won election in 2016 after emerging as a protest leader in Ferguson following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014.

Franks says he often leaves during the pledge to avoid controversy but stayed Wednesday because he had guests to introduce afterward.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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