Protesters at Middlebury College rip flags commemorating 9/11 victims out of the ground

Middlebury College ProtestAn annual tribute to the 2,977 lives lost on Sept. 11 ended prematurely after five students from Middlebury College ripped American flags from the ground in protest, stuffing them into black trash bags before a fellow student stopped them.

The students — four females and one male —  were caught tearing the more than 2,000 American flags placed near the campus chapel from the ground and stuffing them into black trash bags. Set up as a bipartisan tribute to the victims of 9/11 by the Vermont school’s College Republicans and Democrats, the protesters claimed the flags were placed on top of a “sacred Abenaki burial site,” the school’s newspaper, The Middlebury Campus, reported.

“Today, while walking up the hill to Mead Chapel, I witnessed five individuals ripping the flags out of the ground and un-ceremonially throwing them into black garbage bags,” College Republican President Ben Kinney wrote on the group’s Facebook page. “I immediately confronted them and asked them what they were doing, and they angrily replied that Middlebury College sits on Abenaki burial ground and that it is ‘extremely offensive to stick anything in the ground, especially American flags, which are symbolic of their death and oppression.'”

Kinney, who set the flags up himself Tuesday night, continued, writing the students told him both the College Republicans and Democrats were “commemorating the wrong deaths,” and justified their protest, calling it a “protest against American imperialism.”

The young President took one of the bags from the protesters before the group ran from the site. Kinney has since filed a police report.

According to the Middlebury Campus, the two student groups have been placing American flags in the grass between Mead Chapel and the Davis Family Library for approximately 10 years. Campuses nationwide take part in similar tributes as part of the Young America’s Foundation’s 9/11: Never Forget Project.

“Since 2003, Young America’s Foundation has worked with students from across the country to ensure that the 2,977 victims who were murdered in the 9/11 terror attacks be remembered by participating in the 9/11: Never Forget Project,” Hillary Cherry, YAF’s program officer for public relations, told Red Alert Politics in an email. “By ripping the American flags from the ground the five protestors not only disrespected their fellow students who worked hard setting up the display, but they also took away the chance for other students to remember the victims of the horrific attacks.

“Twelve years ago 2,977 people were murdered simply because they were Americans. Each of the protestors should apologize for dismantling a beautiful display honoring American heroes and interfering with their fellow students’ freedom of speech.”

Two of the protesters — Anna Shireman-Grabowski and Amanda Lickers — issued statements via the website Climate Connections, which calls the protest an “act of solidarity.”

“My heart swelled and I knew in my core that thousands of American flags should not penetrate the earth where my abenaki brothers and sisters sleep,” Lickers wrote. “We have all survived so much – and as a visitor on their territories I took action to respect them and began pulling up all of the flags. … Yesterday I said no to settler occupation. I took those flags. It is a small reclamation and modest act of resistance.”

Shireman-Grabowski, a student at Middlebury, echoed her sentiments.

“While the American flags on the Middlebury hillside symbolize to some the loss of innocent lives in New York, to others they represent centuries of bloody conquest and mass murder,” she wrote. “As a settler on stolen land, I do not have the luxury of grieving without an eye to power. Three thousand flags is a lot, but the campus is not big enough to hold a marker for every life sacrificed in the history of American conquest and colonialism.”

Despite the protest, the College Republicans will not be deterred, as Kinney wrote yesterday.

“I just wanted to let you guys know that I fully intend to carry on this tradition, and believe it to be extremely vital in making sure that this day is remembered among younger college students who may have been too young to watch that day’s events on television back in 2001,” he wrote.

This piece has been updated to include new information.

Comments

Polititainment

Obama: LeBron 'did the right thing'

President Obama supports LeBron James' decision to wear an "I can't breathe" t-shirt during warmup before the NBA game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets last week.

Al Sharpton, Hollywood's Sony Liaison

In a private meeting with Rev. Al Sharpton at the Greenwich Hotel in New York City Thursday, Sony Pictures chair Amy Pascal told Sharpton that he could have a voice in how the movie studio makes its films.

Clooney: Release 'The Interview' online

George Clooney may have the most awesomely toothy response to the Sony Pictures cyberattack that forced the movie studio to pull the film "The Interview" from its December 25 release.

Jon Stewart might ruin your childhood

Jon Stewart brought his nightmare-inducing recurring character “Gitmo” on the show to talk about the normalization of U.S. relations with Cuba.

Colbert's embargo on the Vatican

Colbert had to chide his audience Wednesday night for getting excited about making “Cuba more libre.”

White House

Obama: we can’t have censorship subject to ‘some dictator someplace’

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama declared Friday that Sony "made a mistake" in shelving a satirical film about a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader, and he pledged the U.S. would respond "in a place and manner and time that we choose" to the hacking attack on Sony that led to the withdrawal. The FBI blamed the hack on the communist government.

U.S. confirms North Korea was behind Sony attack and promises ‘proportional’ response

Officials no longer merely suspect North Korea to be behind the cyberattack on Sony Picture—they’ve confirmed it.

District court declares Obama’s executive action on immigration unconstitutional
A federal court in Pennsylvania declared parts of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration unconstitutional Tuesday. Judge Arthur J. Schwab, sitting in the western district of Pennsylvania, said presidents do have the power to use discretion in deciding how to enforce laws, but found that Obama’s recent executive action went much further than that.  He said Obama was writing […]
Obama administration extends Pell grants to juvenile offenders
The Obama administration has set out new guidelines that allow for students sentenced to juvenile correctional facilities to be eligible for federal Pell grants. The U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice sent out a joint release Monday that clarified an earlier law. Congress in 1994 prohibited inmates at federal and state prisons from receiving Pell Grants […]
White House denies report that it wants to delay release of CIA torture report

The White House is insisting it wants the Senate Intelligence Committee to release its report on CIA torture practices, despite a report that Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to scuttle it.

Congress

Rubio says Rand Paul is clueless on Cuba

Sen. Marco Rubio made his criticism of a fellow Republican plain Thursday night.

Gowdy's office responds to Speaker chatter

Rep. Trey Gowdy has become a sensation on the Right, with his no-nonsense style and committee hearing takedowns of Obama officials garnering him praise and attention.

Rand Paul: 'Opening up Cuba is a good idea'

Sen. Rand Paul broke with the Republican Party's prevailing argument against President Obama's Cuba policy Thursday, saying the move toward opening trade with the long-embargoed nation "probably" is a good idea.

Retiring DemHenry Waxman's farewell ode to govt

You'd think that, 40 years in, a congressman might grow cynical about the prospects of government meddling. Not retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)!

Senate Confirms Pro-Gun Control Surgeon General
NATIONAL JOURNAL — The Senate narrowly confirmed a new surgeon general whose nomination was delayed for months in a fight over his comments alleging that guns are a public health issue. The confirmation represents a victory for gun-control advocates, even as recent polling has shown Americans moving in the other direction toward gun-rights protections. The […]