University of Washington student places nearly 3,000 US 9/11 flags in trash bags

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ST. LOUIS — A member of the University of Washington student government placed nearly 3,000 American flags meant to commemorate the victims of the September 11 attacks in trash bags, prompting a school investigation.

The university’s chapter of College Republicans had placed the 2,977 flags on Mudd Field on the school’s campus in St. Louis to honor the 20th anniversary of Saturday’s attacks.

Fadel Alkilani, vice-president of finance for the Student Union, admitted removing the flags on Saturday and putting them in plastic bags as part of a protest, but was cut off when another student started to record a video of him.

After a video was posted on social media, Alkilani said in a statement that he intended to leave the bags on Mudd Field with statistics detailing the human cost of 9/11 since the attacks. He said the display of the flag made no mention of Islamophobia in the United States or 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 removing the flags was “reprehensible” and was seen as “a personal affront by many, at WashU and beyond, and an affront to the ideals of our institution”.

Martin, who did not name Alkilani in his statement, said the university will follow its normal protocols during the investigation and ensure “that the student involved has access to campus resources that are routinely available to students as he navigates the consequences of his actions, both on campus and beyond.”

Martin said displaying the flag was an act of free speech, which he called a hallmark of the university community.

“Students have the right to express their point of view, but they also have an obligation to respect the expression of others,” said Martin.

Nathaniel Hope, a member of the College Republicans who took the video of Alkilani removing the flags, said the group places the flags on Mudd Field, which is on the west end of campus, every year to remember 9/11. .

Hope, a sophomore, told KMOX radio he called police, who confiscated the flags and returned them to College Republicans, who reinstalled the flags on Saturday.

“These flags weren’t put up for any political reason,” Hope said. “They were for the lost lives. For anyone, I don’t care if you’re right wing or left wing, removing these flags before September 12th is inappropriate.

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