Things got out of hand quickly at this afternoon’s flag-burning protest on the campus of Louisiana State University. And while counter-protesters are claiming victory, that victory didn’t come without controversy.
As we reported earlier, communication studies graduate student Benjamin Haas had planned an event to protest the recent arrest of a student who stole a university American flag and burned it. He planned on burning his own American flag. But students, led by student government President Cody Wells, planned a counter-protest. Now, first-hand reports say that the flag-burning never happened. Instead, as pictures and video show, the protest got heated as counter protesters mobbed Haas, who then had to be whisked away in a police cruiser for his safety.
John Baham, who attended the protest, explained exactly what happened in an e-mail to The Blaze:
Ben Haas did not burn the flag. There were hundreds of students, veterans, and other patriotic Americans in free speech alley where a heated debate was taking place between a few vets, and a female student. We couldn’t hear what was being said, though. [...]
Suddenly, a student yelled, “Hey there’s Ben Haas and he’s talking to the cameras!” Everyone ran to the parade grounds, and surrounded him while chanting many different things: “U.S.A.,” “Love it or leave it!,” and “Geaux to Hell Hippie, Geaux to Hell!” This last chant is a play on a cheer said during LSU vs. Ole Miss games.
While Ben was speaking to the news camera’s people in the crowd started to throw water bottles, water balloons, etc. at him. The mounted police officers had to escort him away across the parade grounds, and into a police car that was waiting in the middle of a very busy road through campus. The whole time the crowd was following him chanting various things, and they even surrounded the police car until the mounted officers cleared a path.
“He was taken away for his safety,” Baham makes clear, adding that “there were some very angry military vets there, both young and old.”
At one point Baham caught a glimpse of Haas, who he says “looked very scared.”
Baham’s story was captured in pictures by the student newspaper, The Daily Reveille (Haas is in the checked shirt):
According to the paper, “hundreds” showed up to protest Haas. But an unofficial LSU message board put the unverified number in the “thousands.”
A video posted on YouTube shows exactly how the event unfolded. Students can be seeing surrounding Haas as some (as Baham notes) chanted “U-S-A!” while others shouted obscenities and threw things at him. Mounted police can be seen trying to protect him during the ordeal:
[Content Warning: Contains graphic language]
See more images from the Daily Reveille.
(H/T: Blaze reader Kelly)