NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, September 13, 2016, 12:03 AM
Vandals allegedly uprooted and trashed nearly 3,000 tiny American flags that were planted in lawns at a Los Angeles college as a 9/11 memorial, school officials confirmed Monday.
The defacement was first reported Sunday by the Occidental College Republican Club, the group behind the temporary tribute.
The club at the private liberal arts college said it sponsored the memorial to honor the 2,997 people who died on 9/11 and installed the flags in the quad of the school’s Eagle Rock campus on Saturday night.
Around midnight Sunday, “vandals crushed, snapped and threw in the garbage every single flag,” the club wrote on its Facebook page along with a photo of the damage.
The club also denounced posters hung in the area that were critical of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
“R.I.P the 2,996 Americans who died in 9/11. R.I.P. the 1,455,590 Iraqis who died during the U.S. invasion for something they didn’t do,” the posters said, according to a photo of one posted online.
“The college is investigating and will take appropriate disciplinary action,” a school statement posted on the Occidental Facebook page read.
“Freedom of speech is protected by the 1st Amendment,” Erica O’Neal, acting dean of students, said in a statement to the campus community Sunday night.
“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,” she said.
Debate over the incident boiled over in scores of Facebook comments.
Some defended the poster, arguing it was critical of government officials, not victims.
“How is this shaming the victims at all? I came here expecting blatant disrespect on paper and got a poster full of truth. The flags, yeah that was a bit much, but honestly the poster isn’t disrespectful at all,” Facebook user Rebecca Harvey wrote.
Others let their outrage fuel online threats and racist remarks targeting Muslims.
“Violence is never the answer folks,” the campus Republican club said in a Facebook post Monday afternoon. “Threatening others is no way to get your message across. I understand people are angry but please try to keep it under control.”