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FORT LAUDERDALE, FL- According to reports, a controversy is brewing at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, after images shared to social media showcase flags that were placed on campus as a tribute to 9/11 first responders were pulled out and dumped in a trash can. 

Denis Aloma, the school principle, sent a statement to Local 10 News, which said:

“On September 11th, a select group of students and parents installed blue and red striped flags to honor fallen police and firefighters … The presence of the flags was intended for remembrance only, however, some students felt these flags were not appropriate.”

She added:

“An important teaching moment is upon us and the students involved have had the opportunity to express their feelings … In addition, each student has been invited to speak to our school’s diversity inclusion sensitivity committee to provide further understanding.”

Reportedly, the students who trashed the flags interpreted the flags as a statement of support for the “Blue Lives Matter” movement. However, many other students said that trashing the flags was disrespectful of the lives lost on September 11, 2001. Student Joshua Jean said:

“They disrespected the flag.”

Another student, who remained unidentified, said:

“[The person who dumped the flags] believes that the school was racist for doing that kind of thing when in reality it had nothing to do with race, it had to do with 9/11.”

A petition is now reportedly circulating among the St. Thomas Aquinas community calling on the students who threw away the flags to be disciplined. The flyer says, in part:

“When STA students brought the vandalism to administration’s attention, they were accused of ‘being insensitive to the events that have happened over the past year and a half.’ STA staff then proceeded to remove the ‘thin blue line’ flags from campus, spitting on the hard work of students.”

Another student, Thomas Araya, said:

“It’s sad to see that people are throwing it away.”

In a separate incident, a video showcases a student at Washington University picking up U.S. flags commemorating 9/11 on campus and putting them in what appears to be a trash bag. The video went viral on social media. 

According to the student newspaper, the person in the video, since identified as Fadel Alkinali, serves as the chairman of the school’s student senate finance committee.

He allegedly told the paper that he is critiquing the military interventions and Islamophobia that followed the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He said in a statement:

“Any memorial of 9/11 that does not contend with these facts is not only incomplete, but it also amplifies pro-imperialist sentiment and actively disrespects those who have died because of the American invasion.”

The Washington University College Republicans, who placed nearly 3,000 flags at Mudd Field to commemorate the 9/11 attacks want the school to take action over the flag removal.

The school released a statement saying it is disappointed to hear about the 9/11 disruption and condemns Alkilani’s actions, but no disciplinary measures have bene taken.  Ben Wagoner, a student on campus said in a statement:

“There are respectful ways to voice one’s discontent with American foreign policy since then and there are disrespectful ways to do it, and I think removing flags on 9/11 for a memorial intended to honor the victims of 9/11 is definitely a disrespectful way to do it.”

Another student, Grace Halupnick also described Alkilani’s actions as disrespectful, adding:

“I didn’t see it until this morning, but my roommate showed me. I was kind of shocked because I thought the flags were like a nice touch, so I didn’t really know why they did that.”

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Watch: American flags on display honoring 9/11 victims damaged within hours of being put up

September 11th, 2o21

BOSTON, MA- According to reports, several American flags planted at the Public Garden in Boston in honor of 9/11 victims were damaged just hours after the display went up. 

On Wednesday, September 8th, 2,977 American flags were planted. Each represents someone who died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Within hours many of them at been bent, snapped in half or uprooted and scattered on the sidewalk.

Trash cans in the area were also reportedly knocked over and signs explaining the significance of the memorial were missing. Police stated that detectives were investigating the case as vandalism.

Reporter Nick Giovanni shared video footage of the scene at the park. Watch below:

In a subsequent post, he shared a photo of a women kneeling among the flags, writing:

“Ashton Fagan felt compelled to stop while on a walk through the Public Garden to help pick up some of the American flags uprooted overnight.”

Fagan said:

“We should stand for our flag and I will do that every single day.”

According to reports, approximately 30 people with Project 351 placed the flags and encouraged citizens to perform acts of kindness and service to honor those lost on September 11th.

Carolyn Casey, who is the executive director and founder of the project, described the vandalism incident as “heartbreaking and disappointing.” She added:

“I just don’t understand, honestly, what would motivate somebody to do something like this.”

Boston 25 News posted a video on Facebook of volunteers creating the display. Casey added that watching people be enthusiastic about restoring the display was inspiring. She said:

“It says that the best of our humanity is what gets us through every challenge or any challenge. But, as we know in Boston and Massachusetts, any time there is a challenge or there are acts of hatred, people respond with love, with unity, and community.”

She added:

“That’s what happened when I walked in this morning. There were all these people who had just stopped or saw it on the news and came down to make sure all the flags were still up.”

Teresa Mathai, who lost her husband Joseph on 9/11, believes more education is needed about the day that changed the lives of so many people. Mathai said:

“I got a shock. I held my heart it was a physical reaction. Current generation, most probably born after 9/11 who don’t understand the importance of it. The gravity, the history of it.”

Susan Butterfield said she was disappointed when she saw what had been done to the display, adding:

“I feel close to this because I’m a former flight attendant. I was going over to my car and I was going to view this as a memorial, a remembrance. So, I was very, very sad to see this kind of thing happening in our city.

It’s devastating that something like this could happen. But, it’s happening all over the country so I’m really, really very disappointed in people to have done this.”

Boston police reported that by late afternoon on Thursday, September 9th, a suspect had been identified. They were offered services by outreach workers and will be summoned to court for vandalism. 

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LET Unity

Display memorializing 13 service members killed in Kabul attack vandalized, flags shredded in California

September 10th, 2021

RIVERSIDE, CA – A memorial made of 13 American Flags and one Marine Corps flag to honor the American service members killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul Airport during the Biden administration’s frantic withdrawal was vandalized on Labor Day, with each flag torn.

The memorial was put up on a fence above the Ivy Street overpass over Interstate 95 in Riverside. The display was in remembrance of the fallen service members, according to the Riverside Police Department’s Facebook page:

“Recently after the deaths of our 13 United States Service Members killed in Afghanistan, 13 American Flags and one Marine Corps flag were placed on the fence to the Ivy Street overpass to the 91 Freeway in Riverside as a memorial.

“Sometime yesterday, an observant citizen noticed the flags appeared to be damaged and it was reported to the police.”

California was hit hard by the deaths, as many of the service members were hometown heroes based out of Camp Pendleton in San Diego County. The service members from Camp Pendleton included nine Marines and one sailor with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment and 1st Marine Division:

  • Staff Sgt. Darin Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, Calif.
  • Humberto Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Ind.
  • Daegan Page, 23, of Omaha, Neb.
  • Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Mo.
  • Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20, of Norco, Calif.
  • Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
  • Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyo.
  • Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas
  • Navy Hospital Corpsman Maxton Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio
  • https://twitter.com/RepNancyMace/status/1433430406175485961

 

The memorial also honored three other service members killed in the attack who were based in other regions of the country:

  • Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tenn.
  • Marine Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, Calif.
  • Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Mass.

The flags were intentionally ripped and torn, and police said they are searching for the vandals. Photos of the damaged flags were posted online by the Riverside Police Department.

Police were made aware of the criminal mischief by a group called “What is  going on in Riverside County” group, who posted photographs of the torn flags online. Police thank the group for “bringing this crime to our attention.”

Police said there are no suspects in the crime:

 “At this point, we don’t have any suspect description but it’s obvious the flags were intentionally damaged.”

Police praised two citizens who helped the police take down the flags and turned them over to local Boy Scout Troop 703 for proper retirement:

“We want to thank the group ‘What is Going on in Riverside County’ for bringing this crime to our attention.

“With help from two citizens, the flags were carefully removed and will be turned over later today to local Boy Scout Troop 703 for proper retirement.”

No arrests have been made.

Police are asking the public for help:

“If you have any information as to who vandalized these flags placed on this freeway overpass to honor the 13 Fallen Service Members, please contact our Property Crimes Unit at (951) 353-7955.”

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LET Unity

Families of service members killed in Kabul suicide bombing lash out at Biden: ‘Hope he burns in hell’

September 1, 2021

DOVER, DE – According to reports, President Joe Biden did not exactly receive the warmest of welcomes while attending the transfer of remains of the 13 soldiers who were killed in Kabul earlier in August during a suicide bombing, as one person reportedly screamed at President Biden that she hopes he burns “in hell”.

Mark Schmitz, the father of Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, a 20-year-old soldier who died in the suicide bombings outside Kabul Airport, spoke to the Washington Post about the enraged woman on the tarmac, claiming she screamed the following at President Biden:

“I hope you burn in hell! That was my brother.”

Schmitz said he went to the ceremony with his ex-wife and was particularly upset over President Biden shifting the attention to the death of his son Beau Biden, who passed away from cancer after having served in the military:

“When he just kept talking about his son so much it was just — my interest was lost in that. I was more focused on my own son than what happened with him and his son. I’m not trying to insult the president, but it just didn’t seem that appropriate to spend that much time on his own son.”

Speaking with the Post, Schmitz said he stated the following during the ceremony:

“I said, ‘Don’t you ever forget that name. Don’t you ever forget that face. Don’t you ever forget the names of the other 12. And take some time to learn their stories.’”

Schmitz said that President Biden proclaimed, “I do know their stories,” during the interaction. The father of the fallen service member conveyed the shuddering moment when the president tried to engage in a warm embrace, and his sudden feeling of knowing that President Biden is somewhat culpable in his son’s death:

“It’s got to be difficult. I’m not saying it was easy at all. But you can’t run up and hug someone as if you had nothing to do with it. It’s not going to work that way when you’re commander-in-chief.”

Jiennah McCollum, the pregnant wife of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, was also among those who felt that President Biden’s words seemed “scripted and shallow” and was upset over seeing the president checking his watch during the ceremony.

McCollum’s sister, Roice, had some more strong language to describe her sentiments regarding the president:

“My dad and I did not want to speak to him. You cannot kneel on our flag and pretend you care about our troops.”

“You can’t fuck up as bad as he did and say you’re sorry. This did not need to happen, and every life is on his hands.”

In a post from August 27th, the pregnant wife of fallen Marine Lance Cpl. McCollum, Jiennah McCollum, shared the following post to Facebook bemoaning the loss of her husband and knowing their child will never get to meet their father:

“I lost my best friend. And nothing will ever make that hurt less. He would’ve been the best dad. I wish he could see how much of an impact he made on this world. I’m so proud to call him my husband.  But I just wanted to say thank you for all the love and support I’ve received today. Times like this it’s all I can ask for. Much love to the other families affected by this. They are all heroes forever.”

A GoFundMe has been established to help ensure this fallen Marine’s yet-to-born child and widow are taken care of while navigating this loss.
 

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