The 9/11: Never Forget Project was installed at over 200 colleges and universities yesterday, and largely went down without a hitch.
Middlebury, the fourth-ranked liberal arts college in the country, has displayed the 9/11: Never Forget Project on its campus for nearly a decade, as a joint project between the College Republicans and College Democrats. The event is decidedly non-political. This year, five people, including one Middlebury student, took it into their own hands to uproot the memorial, claiming that the area it was placed on was an Abenaki burial ground.
According to the five people who ripped the flags out of the ground, the grass between Mead Chapel and the school's library is an "Indian burial ground" and that "anything penetrating the earth" is prohibited.
College Republicans president Ben Kinney witnessed people uprooting the flags, and initially did not realize what was happening.
“I got there just as they were taking the very last of them out of the ground and putting them in piles,” he said. “At first, I [thought] the group was comprised of College Democrats helping put the flags away before the rain rolled in, but then I realized what they were doing.” Kinney said the protestors told him they were “confiscating” the flags in protest of “America’s imperialism.”
According to Kinney, he had never before seen a protest against the memorial. He had been granted permission by administrators to erect the display.
In a statement to the campus community, President Ronald Liebowitz said that a disciplinary investigation will commence against the student involved.