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9/11 Memorial Flags Trashed at California College

9/11 Memorial Flags Trashed at California College
Susan Dutca-Lovell

Vandals allegedly trashed the 2,997 American flags planted across Occidental College's campus as a 9/11 Memorial by the college's Republican Club. The broken and trashed flags were replaced by fliers that read, "RIP the 1,455,590 innocent Iraqis who died during the U.S. invasion for something they didn't do."

The memorial, which was approved by, and registered with the college, was quickly uprooted by Sunday morning. Occidental Republicans guarded the remaining flags to prevent some students from doing further damage and "vowed to replant" and "rebuild" the memorial. In a statement, the group noted that "there was no reason to damage the memorial...this is beyond politics, this is about those lives that were so tragically taken."

The Coalition for Diversity and Equity (CODE) at Occidental offered a different explanation. "On a campus that proclaims itself time and again to be diverse, equitable and safe for all of its students, the display of American flags covering the entire academic quad disproved that proclamation…When we became aware of the purpose of this display, to memorialize 9/11, we were concerned by the complete disregard for the various peoples affected by this history. As students of color, this symbol of the American flag is particularly triggering for many different reasons. For us, this flag is a symbol of institutionalized violence (genocide, rape, slavery, colonialism, etc.) against people of color, domestically as well as globally. Additionally, if the goal of the memorial is to commemorate the lives lost during 9/11, the singular nature of the American flag fails to account for the diversity of lives lost on that day."

Even at national sporting events, where some athletes refuse to stand during the national anthem, the American flag has become an object that "cannot be viewed as something that means the same to all people." For some, it represents the opposite of freedom: a reminder of the "polarization" and "marginalization" of "people of color living within the United States."

In your opinion, was the dismantling of the 9/11 memorial justified? What disciplinary action, if any, should be taken as a result of the destruction of the sanctioned campus memorial? Would you have acted similarly if you did not agree with such a memorial display?

Comments (18)
yusuph willnton kiziba 10/20/2016
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Benjamin Z 9/25/2016
I don't think it was justified, but I don't think it was wrong to do so either. Let me explain, I think that 9/11 was the most tragic civilian casualty event in American history. None of those people in the buildings or the planes deserved to die and it's really sad to think that almost 3000 innocent people were killed by terrorists, but I think, since it's been 15 years, that the broader focus needs to be seen. We went into Iraq with the focus of "defeating the ones who did this" and I really don't know if we did. However, we definitely killed a bunch of people who didn't do this. This idea that war is the answer needs to change, and the US needs to work on more peaceful options as opposed to just going to war with people we don't like. Tearing up a bunch of flags isn't the answer, the answer is to send a national message that war isn't the answer, and that we need to honor the innocent civilians that we have killed. We need to let Iraqi and Afghani people know we care about them.
Home of the Brave 9/24/2016
Cowards destroying a memorial for the courageous!Whether the coward(s) are American citizens, or are privileged guests from American generosity, this behavior is not an acceptable. The reasons for your contempt and disdain for America and for our brave do not matter. This disrespectful action warrants a loss of education at this institution, and if need be, a deportation given that such actions demonstrate potential to escalate to more violent reckless activities.
ZCasavant 9/23/2016
I thought destroying American flags was illegal?? Whether it is or not, destroying a memorial is destroying a memorial. Aggressive and violent is aggressive and violent. Despite CODE's disagreement with what the flag stands for concerning the post-9/11 events - much of which i side with them on, actually - I nonetheless think this title speaks for itself. What would have been the harm in attaching the flyers to the flags? .... Also, do CODE's leaders possess mentality and maturity beyond high school, or is this program run by 16 year olds? Is the school dealing with this appropriately? I see this as a crime akin to vandalizing, despite my contempt for Bush and the era this flag is portraying. :/ It comes down to being a decent human being, and the violation of the American idea of conveying one's ideas peacefully and freely. The fact that school has no issues with this suggests to me that this country is starting to come apart at the social seams :( It makes me sad.
Isaiah C. 9/22/2016
The students of this college obviously felt a strong anger at the fact that Americans who fought and killed the many innocent Iraqis were praised. Personally, I believe the message that was trying to be conveyed had good intent, but since it was an act of vandalism, many saw it as something an American should do. If these students were to hang up these posters near each flag throughout the school, it would have less aggressive. As Americans, these students should have more appreciation for their country, even with all of our flaws.
Darla P. 9/20/2016
One group at this college requested and were approved to display a memorial which included American flags. Another group took it upon themselves, with no prior authorization, to deface and destroy that memorial, while using a flimsy excuse to try to justify their actions. It is ridiculous to say that the flag didn't represent the diversity of lives lost that day. The American flag was used to represent the loss of American lives. I think the CODE should be held accountable for their actions.
Reuben J 9/20/2016
The people that did that obviously felt that what the terrorist did to us on that day was a good thing and that the innocent Iraqis that died are more important then the innocent Americans that where killed. They should be mad at the19 Iraqis that killed 2,997 innocent Americans. If those radicals just stood home all those Iraqis would not have died. It is horrible that people died for an action of hate and evil they did not deserve. It's sad that hey ripped down American flags. Someone on the street behind me has a confederate flag on their car antenna and the people a few houses down have a LGBT flag up. You never hear about people ripping those things down.
Ushindi Nzebele 9/15/2016
''When you see something, you may recognize something but good decision for what you've seen actually comes later''.I need collabolation with u
neal m 9/14/2016
what a disgrace. someone forgot to tell the liberals that free speech belongs to everyone especially when they disagree with your viewpoint. Why is it that lots of media portray conservatives as mean-spirited,but the actions of the other side tell a much different story?
Nyla T. 9/14/2016
While it is understandable that it was offensive as a result of their personal perspectives, I do not believe their actions were justified. I believe that actions such as this do more harm than good. If you are going to make a statement, do so in a productive manner. Take action that actually benefits and empowers people as opposed to causing problems for multiple parties. Disciplinary actions should be put in place, but nothing too major. Extensive community service, rebuilding of the memorial, & a reminder of why the memorial was created is just enough.
Karissa 9/13/2016
I get the message these people were trying to convey by saying RIP to the innocent Iraquis, I agree with it. I do not, however, agree with the trashing of a 9/11 memorial. The people that died that day didn't do anything wrong for their memorial to be trashed. It's disrespectful.
Drake W. 9/13/2016
Not to sound "inferior" or "Narrow" minded but American troops earned that flag and it will be treated with dignity and respect. It does not have words written on it but it tells the story of America. If you want to blame a flag for death or racism look elsewhere because whether you're Caucasion, African American, Mexican, Asian, Chinese, or any other race that I have not named and you live in this great country. That flag represents you. Do you believe that all of the people in the twin towers deserved to die and never get to see their children, spouses, or family? This brings up the tough point that most people get offended by, the past. Yes, America has and most likely will continue to participate in war. Its out of the control of modern people because we act irrationally towards most threats. Not saying that peace is a rational solution with a country who wants war and would destroy you if they had the option but there are no perfect situations to the product of evolution. The weak perish and the strong thrive. Dwarwinism is the theory known commonly as "survival of the fittest." If America had been weaker we would have most likely been dominated by another country like the Romans did to the Greeks. There is no way of knowing and the past can't be fixed. Destroying the memorial will not justify deaths of innocent people. It's not funny either, it's a serious matter and people get heated over the subject of the flag and what it represents. Our culture is changing there are little to no "pure" races anymore. Everyone has a little diversity to them whether you believe it or not. In fact, America is extremely diverse and accepts many beliefs and ways of life. However, I have not been to other "third-world" countries as I am not wealthy or qualified enough to go. My personal opinion on world travel is that you have to be selective in which country or region you visit. In all honesty I would be scared to visit Iraq or Iran which shouldn't be the situation. I sho
Abby P. 9/13/2016
This memorial should absolutely not been trashed! No matter what the message was, any display approved by the college, unless causing physical harm, should be left alone. If I saw a display on campus that I didn't approve of, or was offended by, I might grumble a bit, but I would never try to dismantle it! Members of CODE should remember that it was under the American flag that slavery was ended. Thousands of men died under that flag to unite the states and abolish slavery. I also dispute the point that "the singular nature of the American flag fails to account for the lives lost that day." People of all kinds of races and ethnicities died that day. How foolish and disrespectful to ruin their monument! Don't drag the American flag in the dirt, both literally and ideologically. It doesn't represent the government, its policies, or political movements. It represents our country, and the freedom we have.
Barb K 9/13/2016
Occidental College, another college my daughter would not go to if it were on our list. Check off.
Jakai T 9/13/2016
Although trashing the flags wasn't necessary, I wholeheartedly agree with the message they wanted to present. Yes, we should mourn for those lost, but we should also keep being sad and being racist completely separate. Don't blame an entire race for what a group of terrorists decided to do. Then we can all mourn together.
Cal S. 9/13/2016
As a proud veteran this pisses me off. By doing this on the aniversary of the most deadly attack in the history of the world is uncalled for. Those people that died deserve to be remembered. They had no part in the war on Iraq. If you want to desecrate the flag that is your right but you have no need to desecrate a memorial for people that did nothing. Truly a classes pathetic act.
E.A.P 9/13/2016
I bleed red, white, and blue..
Alexis C. 9/13/2016
I hate being in a generation full of a bunch of ungrateful brats who know absolutely nothing other than their feelings. If they hate the American Flag so much then they don't need to attend an American college with financial aid from the school or the American government. Their complete disregard to the memorial just shows how cruel, bitter, and cowardly they are and if they are caught then they should be properly punished.
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