Veterans protest removal of American flag at Hampshire College

Veterans and local residents are outraged that Hampshire College is no longer flying the American flag on campus after one was burned on the eve of Veterans Day.

Hundreds of local veterans and residents demonstrated Sunday morning outside the entrance to the college with American flags, including members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 754 of Amherst, Massachusetts, Mayor Domenic Sarno of Springfield, state representative John Velis, and other veterans and family members of those who serve.

[RELATED: American flag lowered, burned in response to election]

The protest came after Hampshire College president Jonathan Lash announced in a statement that it would temporarily not allow the American flag or any other flag to fly on campus due to “the current environment of escalating hate-based violence,” explaining that removing the American flag would enable the school to “focus our efforts on addressing racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behaviors.”

After being reported by Campus Reform, the backlash against the school’s decision became the subject of nationwide media attention.

The protest was timed to take place as students returned to school from Thanksgiving break, and featured accounts by veterans, along with a blue and gold star mom and others. The event opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of the national anthem, and continued with chants of “raise our flag” and impromptu renditions of “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.”

Local residents made a series of signs expressing their outrage with the school’s decision, including one display humorously comparing a Hampshire College degree to a roll of toilet paper.

“Mr. Lash, Raise My Flag,” one sign read. "No flag? No property/sales tax exemptions!" stated another.

After the speakers addressed the crowd, Hampshire College students finally joined the protest, one of whom sat in front of the college’s sign in a silent counter-protest.

The crowd, which was attempting to take a picture with the sign, politely asked him to move, and his response was to repeatedly refuse.

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