Members of a club at Occidental College in Los Angeles said a 9/11 memorial they sponsored was vandalized early Sunday. The group planted nearly 2,997 U.S. flags to remember the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but later found the flags "trashed and crushed," reported the Los Angeles Times.
The group said vandals first struck in the late hours Saturday night, and once again after the memorial was repaired in the early morning Sunday. "At midnight early this morning, vandals crushed, snapped, and threw in the garbage every single flag. Not one was left in the ground. Not only did they destroy the memorial, they put posters and flyers [sic] up that shamed the victims of 9/11," the Occidental College Republican Club wrote on Facebook. After the club put the memorial back together, they later found "hundreds of flags kicked and smashed, and fifty or so back in the trash."
The flier left at the site reportedly 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."
The Occidental College Republican Club also claimed four students snapped flags in their faces. "When we confronted them, those cowards got away as fast as they possibly could," the club wrote on Facebook.
The college posted to Twitter that it was "investigating and will take appropriate disciplinary action."
The vandalism has predictably sparked a heated debate on campus. Occidental Students United Against Gentrification took issue with the use of the flag in a memorial, posting, "We have no tolerance for stolen land, colonizers, oppression, genocides, xenophobia, and/or erasure of culture/people (aka US nationalism)," according to the Times.
The Occidental College Republican Club made a post to Facebook Monday that indicated racism had become an issue on their page. "We understand people are frustrated and angry," the group wrote. "But please, refrain from racist remarks. That serves no justice."