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Vets to protest removal of flag at Hampshire College

  • Phyllis Gamache holds a flag during the veterans day parade and ceremonies in Northampton Friday morning. Gazette photo



For The Recorder
Friday, November 25, 2016

AMHERST — A local veterans group plans to line the streets outside Hampshire College with hundreds of U.S. flags Sunday following a national firestorm that erupted this week after the college removed Old Glory from campus.

Meantime, state Rep. John Velis, D-Westfield, is calling on the college to fly the flag once again.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 754 of Amherst and others will meet outside the college’s West Street entrance at 1 p.m. Sunday for a “peaceful demonstration of freedom.”

The gathering is a response to a two-week-long saga surrounding the main flag flown at the center of Hampshire College’s campus, which was lowered to half-staff by students upset with the election of Donald Trump, burned, replaced by administrators and lowered again to half-staff. Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash announced last Friday the flag was removed for an indefinite period.

The removal came after some were upset by Hampshire’s flying of the flag at half-staff beyond that which is allowed by U.S. Flag Code, which the college periodically does, and is the latest example of long-running controversy and dialogue about the flag at Hampshire College. It was removed to allow for discussion at the college, Lash wrote in an email.

“There’s other ways that he (Lash) could have dealt with this,” VFW Post Commander Victor A. Nunez Ortiz said. “(Removing) our flag is disrespectful not just to the men and women who have served, but to all Americans who believe our flag is a symbol of freedom.”

He said he expects people from across New England, some arriving on motorcycles, to join the gathering.

Hampshire College spokesman John Courtmanche said the college community welcomes discussion, especially considering the institution’s social justice-minded culture.