9/11 memorial vandalized at Obama’s alma mater
“Today is meant to be a day of respect and remembrance for all the victims and heroes of 9/11,” the Occidental College Republicans wrote in a Facebook post. The 2,997 American flags the club sponsored were planted by “students of all backgrounds” to represent the people who died in the terrorist attacks.
However, the memorial was destroyed in the overnight hours ahead of the anniversary.
“At midnight early this morning, vandals crushed, snapped, and threw in the garbage every single flag,” the club wrote on Sunday. “Not one was left in the ground. Not only did they destroy the memorial, they put posters and flyers up that shamed the victims of 9/11.”
Those makeshift flyers were taped to benches and other surfaces. Many of them read: “R.I.P. The 2,996 Americans who died in 9/11. R.I.P. the 1,455,590 innocent Iraqis who died during the U.S. invasion for something they didn’t do.”
A group of 15 students pulled the flags out of the trash and replaced them on the quad. But the vandalism wasn’t finished. Despite having a few students who “stood guard at the memorial” in the early hours of Sunday morning, “[f]our Occidental students came up and snapped a few flags right in our faces. When we confronted them, those cowards got away as fast as they possibly could.”
Later in the morning, the club said, there was “another lazy attempt at vandalism,” with hundreds of the flags “kicked and smashed,” and about 50 were again thrown out.
“This is beyond politics, this is about those lives that were so tragically taken,” the Occidental College Republicans wrote. “We ask that all students respect the memorial for the remainder of its time in the quad. If you try to destroy it, we will rebuild it.”
The school itself is looking into the vandalism.
“We don't yet know who is responsible for this incident, but the college is investigating and will take appropriate disciplinary action,” Occidental said in a statement. “If you have any information about this incident, please share that information with us at firstname.lastname@example.org."
President Barack Obama attended the small, left-leaning liberal arts school in Los Angeles for two years before transferring to Columbia University to finish his undergraduate degree.
Occidental’s 9/11 memorial wasn’t the only one that was vandalized ahead of the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. On Friday, Emergency Medical Veterans Response in Phoenix, Arizona discovered that the specially designed memorial wrap on its ambulance was torn and burned beyond repair. The company’s owner, Trinidy Currier, found the damage as he was heading to Arizona State University to provide medical aid at the school’s 9/11 Tribute Run.
"It was a very stupid move. It was very inconsiderate and thoughtless," Currier, an Army veteran, told KSAZ. “A lot of us are firefighters, a lot of are veterans, so it's kind of like having 911 on site."
"There's a lot of different emotions going on right now. I've got the anger, I've got the sadness, I've got the where do we go from here," he added.
A local sign company has stepped up to donate a new wrap, which is expected to cost between $4,500 and $5,500.