Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, erupted in protests over the weekend at the school president’s decision to remove the American flag from its post.
Here’s the backstory, from Time:
“The election of Donald Trump as President led some students to lower an American flag that waved above the campus to half-mast, New York magazine reports.
“Later, an individual lit the flag on fire just days before Veterans Day, and the college president soon called for the removal of all flags on campus.”
“The college said it would stop flying the flag in order to allow a discussion about its many possible meanings to students and employees from diverse backgrounds. School spokesman John Courtmanche said previously that, while some students take pride in the American flag, for others it is ‘a powerful symbol of fear.’”
Amherst townspeople were outraged, especially its military veterans.
So on Sunday, hundreds gathered at the campus, waving flags in protest.
One spokesperson said Jonathan Lash, the school president, listened to their complaints in the minutes before the protest were due to take place.
But Lash didn’t change his mind about the flag.
“‘President Lash listened respectfully to the views of the veterans, and explained that the Hampshire College community includes a wide range of views including employees and students who have served or are currently serving in the US military,” said Courtmanche.
“Lash also told the veterans that the goal is ‘to enable a discussion of values among all members of our campus, not make a political statement.’”
Speakers at the protest included Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
Again, from MassLive.com:
“Leo Deschenes of South Hadley served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 16 years. He vividly recalls rescuing Cuban and Haitian migrants at sea, thousands of people living under daily oppression. He said he came to peacefully protest in defense of ‘a country that has given people more freedom than any other country in the world.’
“‘It’s not about who won the election,’ said Deschenes. ‘It’s about being able to have free elections and voice opinions or opposition and not be hauled off to jail or imprisoned forever or executed in the streets.’”