ST. LOUIS – A member of the student government at the University of Washington placed nearly 3,000 American flags intended to commemorate the victims of the 9/11 attacks in trash bags, which sparked an investigation by the school.
The University Chapter of College Republicans had placed the 2,977 flags on Mudd Field on the school’s St. Louis campus to honor the 20th anniversary of Saturday’s attacks.
Fadel Alkilani, vice president of finance for the Students’ Union, admitted he removed the flags on Saturday and put them in plastic bags as part of a protest, but was interrupted when a another student started to record a video of him.
After posting a video on social media, Alkilani said in a statement he intended to leave the bags on Mudd Field along with statistics detailing the human cost of 9/11 since the attacks. He said the display of the flag did not mention Islamophobia in the United States or the civilian casualties in the Middle East caused by the US military, the Kansas City Star reported.
University of Washington Chancellor Andrew Martin said in a statement that the withdrawal of the flags was “reprehensible” and was seen as “a personal affront by many in Washington and beyond, and an affront to ideals. of our institution “.
Martin, who did not name Alkilani in his statement, said the university will follow its normal protocols while investigating and ensure “that the student involved has access to campus resources that are regularly available to students then. that he is navigating the consequences of his actions, both on campus and beyond. “
Martin said the display of the flag was an act of free speech, which he called a hallmark of the university community.
“Students have the right to express their views, but they also have an obligation to respect the expressions of others,” said Martin.
Nathaniel Hope, a college Republican member who took the video of Alkilani removing the flags, said the group places the flags on Mudd Field, which is at the western end of the campus, every year to remember the September 11th.
Hope, a sophomore, told KMOX radio he called the police, who confiscated the flags and returned them to college Republicans, who reinstalled the flags on Saturday.
“These flags were not put up for any political reason,” Hope said. “They were for the lives lost. For everyone, I don’t care whether you are on the right or the left, removing these flags before September 12 is inappropriate.