A group of unknown vandals destroyed a 9/11 memorial at Occidental College over the weekend, damaging nearly 3,000 American flags planted in memory of those who died during the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001.
While some are rebuking the action, there are others who have praised it because the flag is a "triggering … symbol of institutionalized violence (genocide, rape, slavery, colonialism, etc.) against people of color," according to the Coalition Oxy for Diversity and Equity.
Flags crushed, trashed at Sept. 11 memorial at Occidental College pic.twitter.com/Zo7Zyqz98h— FOX & Friends (@foxandfriends) September 12, 2016
"As students of color, this symbol of the American flag is particularly triggering for many different reasons," CODE members wrote in a Facebook post. "Historically, the American flag and subsequent American nationalist symbols have been polarizing and marginalizing to people of color living within the United States. This has been most recently exemplified in Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the American national anthem."
The post continues, "When this institution allows thousands of American flags to be placed in the center of campus it speaks volumes to the students that have lived their lives under the oppression of this flag."
In addition the destroying the 9/11 memorial display, the unknown group also posted fliers that the Occidental College Republican Club, which is responsible for the display, said "shamed the victims of 9/11," according to The Los Angeles Times.
"R.I.P. The 2,996 Americans who died in 9/11. R.I.P. the 1,455,590 innocent Iraqis who died during the U.S. invasion for something they didn’t do," the poster, which displayed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center complex prior to the attack, read.
"This is beyond politics, this is about those lives that were so tragically taken," the Republican club wrote in a statement on Facebook in response to the vandalism.
The memorial was put up on Saturday, one day before the 15th anniversary of 9/11, but it was destroyed overnight. The flags were stomped on and many thrown into nearby trash cans.
Several students at the California college told a Los Angeles Daily News reporter that the actions of the vandals is not representative of the majority of people at the school. Many described the destruction as disrespectful.
"Freedom of speech is protected by the 1st Amendment," Erica O’Neal, acting dean of students, said in a statement to the Times. "The right and freedom to debate complex, contentious issues and disagree with each other is fundamental to what we do at Oxy. At the same time, we may not express ourselves in ways that prevent others from engaging in protected speech."
The college has said it is investigating the ordeal.
Members of CODE also pointed out that, this year, 9/11 marks the start of Eid al-Adha, a major Muslim holiday, and erecting the flags over the weekend "shows a complete lack of thought care or understanding of the students that are still living with the rising Islamophobia in the aftermath of 9/11."
(H/T: Heat Street)
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