- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Several students at Brown University reportedly tore up and threw away American flags that were set up as part of a Veterans Day ceremony on campus.

The flags lined the sidewalks on the Providence school’s main green in preparation for the annual Veterans Day ceremony sponsored by the Office of Student Veterans and Commissioning Programs, The Brown Daily Herald reported.

Nicholas Strada, a neuroscience major, said he noticed the display had been vandalized when he came out of class on Thursday.

“When I got out of class, people had snapped them, ripped them, and threw them aside,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. “I spent 1.5 hours outside taping them back together and putting all of them back in the ground, with a few confrontations. Only 2 people out of hundreds of people that passed by stopped to help. One person actually stomped on and snapped all of the ones I put back and when I asked her to stop and explained that they were for Veterans Day she said ‘I don’t care about that.’ “

Mr. Strada’s post included a video — which garnered 58,000 views as of Wednesday morning — showing a female student throwing a pile of American flags on the ground and storming off.

“It would’ve really bothered me to see that done to the flag any day, but just because it was Veterans Day and there was a ceremony, it was a little extra disturbing,” Mr. Strada told The Herald.

Tristan Hood, an economics student who served two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Air Force, was one of the people who helped set up the flags. He told The Washington Post that he and two other veterans later found a bunch of the flags in a nearby trash can. They also saw a handful of students ripping more flags out of the ground, tearing them up and stomping on them, he said.

“They call us baby killers,” Mr. Hood said. “They say all we do is hide behind a veil of integrity and honor and go around the world enslaving people.”

Student Leah Zavalick organized a sit-in on the main green to repair and protect the flags while veterans were in class, The Herald reported.

Cass Cliatt, a spokesman for the university, said the school is investigating the vandalism.

“Every year members of our campus community come together to honor our veterans and their commitment to serving our country,” Mr. Cliatt told The Post. “According to some accounts we have received, members of our community diligently worked to restore the removed flags, some of which had been removed and left nearby. Other flags were removed by the organizers of the event and replaced the morning of the Veterans Day ceremony. We do not condone the activities that led to the flags being removed, and destruction of property is subject to disciplinary review.”

Students appeared divided on the destruction of the flags, according to messages on the Brown Bears Admirers Facebook page, a platform that allows students to comment anonymously, The Herald reported.

“I’d like to appreciate everyone who has been removing the flags from the Main Green,” one post read, according to The Herald. “As much as I know that these flags are there to represent Veterans Day, when I look at them, all I feel is overwhelming nausea, and all I see is a symbol of the oppressing white nationalism that has jeopardized myself and so many others at Brown and abroad.”

“It’s just a difference of how you see the flag because for some people, it’s this sign of oppression and racial dominance and bigotry and imperialism,” read another, The Herald reported. “And it’s pretty much a flag of evil. And if I thought that way about the flag, I’d be stomping on it too … At the same time, it’s painful for us.”

The post that generated those responses has since been deleted. 

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