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Activists destroy and steal a 9/11 memorial

Posted by on Sep. 13, 2013 at 11:01 AM
  • 20 Replies

9/11 Memorial Uprooted in Midday Protest

by / protest (192) in News /
Two of five unidentified protestors uproot flags dedicated to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks in a midday protest. (middbeat/Rachel Kogan)

A 2,977 flag memorial was ripped out of the ground in front of Mead Memorial Chapel shortly before 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11 by a group of five protestors claiming that the flags were on top of a sacred Abenaki burial site.

The flags — meant to commemorate each of the 2,977 lives taken in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks — have been posted in the grass between Mead Chapel and the Davis Family Library annually in a joint effort between the College Republicans and Democrats for nearly 10 years.

Ben Kinney ’15, president of the College Republicans, spent two hours putting the flags outside of Mead Chapel on Tuesday night, and happened to be walking up the hill towards the chapel when he saw four females and one male stuffing the miniature flags into black trash bags.

“I got there just as they were taking the very last of them out of the ground and putting them in piles,” he said. “At first, I the group was comprised of College Democrats helping put the flags away before the rain rolled in, but then I realized what they were doing.”

Kinney said the protestors told him they were “confiscating” the flags in protest of “America’s imperialism.”

Julia Madden ’14, was walking back from Proctor when she saw the five people uprooting the flags.

“I was just getting out of class, but when I saw what they were doing I decided to say something,” she said. “They were quickly putting them into two big plastic trash bags. I’m mad at myself for not being more aggressive. I was just dumbfounded.”

There was no discussion. No compromise. We asked if we could put them somewhere else, but they wouldn’t listen.”

Sasha Schell ’15 also walked by the protest.

“I was thinking to myself ‘why are people cleaning them up now and why are they doing it in such a hurried and haphazard manner?’ I went up and asked them what they were doing. They said ‘this is an Indian burial ground and you can’t have anything penetrating the earth.’”

“It is really disrespectful to our community. It is disrespectful to the firefighters who went into the towers to save people. Most of all, it is disrespectful to anybody who lost somebody on that day,” he said. “It was completely out of line for anybody to come remove those flags. This is a travesty.”

Kinney, who said he received permission to erect the memorial from Associate Dean of Students for Student Activities & Orientation JJ Boggs, said he had never seen protests against the yearly memorial during his time at the College.

“You can’t say that one death is more legitimate to commemorate than another,” he said.

by on Sep. 13, 2013 at 11:01 AM
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tanyainmizzou
by Platinum Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 11:02 AM

President of the University's response

September 11th Incident

 

Statement from Middlebury President Ron Liebowitz
Sept. 12, 2013

 

To the Middlebury College Community,

Yesterday, on the 12th anniversary of the horrific attack on our nation on September 11, 2001, a group of Middlebury students commemorated the loss of nearly 3,000 lives by placing American flags in front of Mead Chapel as they have done a number of times in the past. Sadly, a handful of people, at least some of them from our campus community, this year chose to desecrate those flags and disrespect the memories of those who lost their lives by pulling the flags from the ground and stuffing them in garbage bags.

We live in an academic community that fosters and encourages debate and discussion of difficult issues.  It is also a community that requires of all a degree of respect and civility that was seriously undermined and compromised by this selfish act of protest.

Like many of you, I was deeply disturbed by the insensitivity of this act.  Destruction of property and interfering with the rights of others to express themselves violates the standards of our community. The College has begun a disciplinary investigation of this incident.

There is always something to learn from differences of opinion.  In this case, the disrespectful methods of the protesters overshadowed anything that might have been learned from the convictions they claimed to promote.  We will not tolerate this kind of behavior.

Ron Liebowitz


http://www.middlebury.edu/about/president/addresses/560775

tanyainmizzou
by Platinum Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Response of one of the vandals


Shireman-Grabowski’s Statement:

Today I, along with a group of non-Middlebury students, helped remove around 3,000 American flags from the grass by Mead Chapel. While I was not the only one engaged in this action and the decision was not solely mine, I am the one who will see you in the dining halls and in the classroom, and I want to take accountability for the hurt you may be feeling while clarifying the motivations for this action.

My intention was not to cause pain but to visibilize the necessity of honoring all human life and to help a friend heal from the violence of genocide that she carries with her on a daily basis as an indigenous person. While the American flags on the Middlebury hillside symbolize to some the loss of innocent lives in New York, to others they represent centuries of bloody conquest and mass murder. As a settler on stolen land, I do not have the luxury of grieving without an eye to power. Three thousand flags is a lot, but the campus is not big enough to hold a marker for every life sacrificed in the history of American conquest and colonialism.

The emails filling my inbox indicate that this was not a productive way to start a dialogue about American imperialism. Nor did I imagine that it would be. Please understand that I am grappling with my complicity in the overwhelming legacy of settler colonialism. Part of this process for me is honoring the feelings and wishes of people who find themselves on the other side of this history.

I wish to further clarify that members of the local Abenaki community should in no way be implicated in today’s events. Nor can I pretend to speak to their feelings about flags, burial sites, or 9/11.

Today I chose to act in solidarity with my friend, an Indigenous woman and a citizen of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy who was appalled to see the burial grounds of another Indigenous nation desecrated by piercing the ground that their remains lay beneath. I understand that this action is confusing and painful for many in my community. I don’t pretend to know if every action I take is right or justified—this process is multi-layered and nuanced. I do know that colonialism has been—and continues to be—a real and destructive force in the world that we live in. And for me, to honor life is to support those who struggle against it.

Euphoric
by Thumper kid spanks on Sep. 13, 2013 at 11:03 AM

 :(

lizzy_ellie
by Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Wow, that's crazy. People these days...

tanyainmizzou
by Platinum Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 11:10 AM

Crazy and insensitive.

Quoting lizzy_ellie:

Wow, that's crazy. People these days...


Mrs.Kubalabuku
by Bronze Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 11:10 AM

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept that the flags piercing the ground was a travesty, but the sidewalks, lamp posts, benches, planted trees, waste receptacles, and buildings are not?

Sounds like a thinly veiled excuse.  Is there any proof this IS a burial ground?  Unfortunately when I try to Google it all I'm pulling up are articles like these.  If someone with better search skills could help me out I'd appreciate it.  

tanyainmizzou
by Platinum Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 11:11 AM

I haven't read anything other than this chick saying it was a burial ground.

Quoting Mrs.Kubalabuku:

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept that the flags piercing the ground was a travesty, but the sidewalks, lamp posts, benches, planted trees, waste receptacles, and buildings are not?

Sounds like a thinly veiled excuse.  Is there any proof this IS a burial ground?  Unfortunately when I try to Google it all I'm pulling up are articles like these.  If someone with better search skills could help me out I'd appreciate it.  


Mrs.Kubalabuku
by Bronze Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 11:13 AM


The more I look without finding ANYTHING to confirm her claims makes me strongly skeptical.  I know in the past Native Americans have consented to having burial grounds moved to protect them from urban sprawl.  But even then, you can usually find an article on it.

Quoting tanyainmizzou:

I haven't read anything other than this chick saying it was a burial ground.

Quoting Mrs.Kubalabuku:

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept that the flags piercing the ground was a travesty, but the sidewalks, lamp posts, benches, planted trees, waste receptacles, and buildings are not?

Sounds like a thinly veiled excuse.  Is there any proof this IS a burial ground?  Unfortunately when I try to Google it all I'm pulling up are articles like these.  If someone with better search skills could help me out I'd appreciate it.  




Bookwormy
by Platinum Member on Sep. 13, 2013 at 11:20 AM
This was a poor choice of protest. Good grief...
stormcris
by Christy on Sep. 13, 2013 at 11:26 AM

The whole school is stated to be built on top of the burial grounds so if she has issues with that so much why is she going to school there? I am curious if she has taken to crusading in a similar manner that people who find religion suddenly and then become fanatical about it. 

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