Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, May 29, 2017

Students burn flags in protest against Trump presidency

Hundreds gathered on the steps of MGC in a tense rally

Hundreds of students gathered in front of the Mary Graydon Center on Wednesday afternoon to protest the presidential election of Donald Trump. Several students burned American flags.

Spectators began congregating around 2 p.m., playing music, yelling F--- Donald Trump,’ picketing with protest signs and participating in chants such as “Hey hey, ho ho, white supremacy’s got to go’ and ‘If we don’t get it, shut it down’.

As the flags burned, some students shared their feelings with the crowd, expressing how burning the flag acted as a metaphor for the United States and where the country is headed with Trump as president.

“This is a representation of America,” sophomore Ciera Jeffries said during the rally. “We are going down in flames. Everything we stand for. All of our rights, all of our unique identities no longer mean s--- if Trump is president. I will not stand for it.”

Almost immediately, counter-protesters tried to stop students from burning flags by trying to grab them out of their hands, resulting in high tensions and confrontation that was controlled by University officials and Public Safety officers. Among those present were Vice President of Campus Life Gail Hanson, Public Safety Police Captain Kevin Barrett and Director of Student Activities Michael Elmore, as well as numerous professors and staff members.

Sophomore Camila Ramirez said that she believes students have the right to burn the flag, given that it is appropriated by the Constitution.

“Burning the flag is a constitutional right,” Ramirez said. “It counts as political speech, so it’s not whether or not we think of it as wrong, but it’s just a fact that it was decided by the courts that this is something that represents speech. So I have no qualms about them burning the flag because they were using it to make a point and the point got across.”

Once the initial flag burning protest died down after about 10 minutes, a significantly smaller group of Trump supporters arrived on the scene wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, leading other students to question them on their political choices.

“Where the f--- you at? I want to hear why you’re so ignorant! Just tell me! I want to hear you! Speak the f--- up! You’re wearing it on your head!” a student yelled from the crowd.

While the Trump supporters present did not respond to the entire crowd, some of of them engaged in individual debates with other spectators.

As the afternoon wore on, students remained in debate outside of MGC until approximately 5:30 p.m.

As the event came to a close, sophomore Isaiah Young, one of the leaders of the protest and the public relations director for the Black Student Alliance, expressed his discontent with those who voted for Trump despite the racist and offensive remarks the president-elect made throughout the election.

“The fact that some of you voted for a man who was endorsed by people who hung people who looked like me is disgusting,” Young said to the crowd. “And on that note, America was never great, f--- Donald Trump, f--- white supremacists and f--- the American flag.”

jodonohoe@theeagleonline.com

ikaplan@theeagleonline.com

*Editor's note: Some student quotes from the original article have been removed, due to concerns expressed by those students for their personal safety. While The Eagle aims to provide thorough coverage of all news at American University, our top priority is always to ensure the safety of both those featured in our articles and the reporters who produce them.