Washington University student government official caught removing flags on 9/11 ‘to protest American imperialism’

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ST LOUIS, MO – A Washington University student senator was caught in the act of removing American flags from a 9/11 memorial on the twentieth anniversary of the tragic attack on our country.

The student, identified as Fadel Alkilani, was filmed plucking the flags from the ground and placing them into garbage bags – later claiming his actions were a form of protest against “Islamophobia” and “American imperialism”.

According to a report from YAF regarding the incident, Alkilani was caught pulling the American flags out of the ground on September 11th, which the flags were placed around the campus in an effort to pay homage to those who lost their lives on that fateful day back in 2001.

The memorial was actually a part of YAF’s “9/11: Never Forget Project”, where students could purchase and place 2,977 small flags into the ground in honor of the victims of 9/11, which Washington University was cited as a participant of the memorial project.

Nathaniel Hope, a member of the Washington University’s College Republicans, was the person who caught Alkilani stuffing all the flags into garbage bags, which Alkilani expressed irritation when being filmed by Hope:

“Who are you? Okay…kinda weird when some random person walks up and photographs you.”

Hope said that Alkilani later claimed that the 9/11 memorial “was in violation of school rules,” and when Alkilani was later reached for comment by YAF regarding the incident, he responded with “I did not violate any university or legal policy. Now go away.”

After YAF posted the video of Alkilani on Twitter, he smugly responded to the tweet online with the following:

“I was not throwing them away, I was labeling them in bags on the field, get it right.”

Editor of The Post Millennial, Andy Ngo, shared a screenshot of Alkilani’s response to the incident from her personal Instagram account, which read as follows:

“Currently, there is a massive harassment campaign propagated primarily by Washington University College Republicans, as well as the national Young Americans Foundation (YAF) regarding an incident that occurred at approximately 6 am on Saturday, September 11, 2021.

There is a large amount of misinformation circulating, and I seek to explain both what occurred and why it happened.”

“American hegemony. Muslims such as I have faced fear, harassment, and Islamophobia from those who unjustly used the victims of 9/11 as a political cudgel.

Those who died during 9/11 deserve better than to be used as a political tool by those who seek to excuse American imperialism and Islamophobia. They died for no reason, suddenly and traumatically, and they should be grieved, not by political symbols, but by their names and faces.

I also want to extend my condolences to all those who have died and been injured, both American and not, since 9/11. Their deaths were preventable, and thus, extremely tragic.”

Alkilani has since deleted his Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts following the immense pushback and criticism he faced over his tarnishing of the 9/11 memorial.

According to students at the university who assisted with setting up the memorial, Alkilani also tried to destroy the display on the evening of September 10th but was told to stop once campus police were called that evening.

Eventually, the stolen flags were retrieved and replanted once again to honor the fallen Americans. Jonathan Barnes, an assistant professor of chemistry at Washington University, took to Twitter to share a photo of the memorial after the flags had been retrieved, adding the following statement:

“This student’s actions do not represent the broader WashU community, which values freedom of expression. I just confirmed tonight (at 10:20 pm CT) the American flags and sign remain on display.”

Washington University have not made mention on whether Alkilani will face any sort of discipline over the attempted theft of the memorial flags, but did offer the following statement when reached for comment by YAF:

“We were disappointed to learn about the disruption to the 9/11 display on Mudd Field. We condemn the interference with the expression of support by the College Republicans for the victims of the national tragedy that took place 20 years ago today.

The actions surrounding this incident were not on behalf of the university or a university-sponsored organization.”

“We value freedom of expression in all forms and will work to ensure that all students are able to express their points of view through appropriate channels without disrupting the rights of others to show support for causes they care about.

This is a critical component of our core values and we are committed to facilitating free speech on our campus.”

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

(Originally published September 11th, 2021)

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

(Originally published 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

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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