St. Louis, MO – A Washington University student senator was caught on video on Saturday removing the almost 3,000 American flags that had been set up on campus as a 20th anniversary memorial to the victims of 9/11 (video below).
Washington University (WU) student Nathanial Hope told FOX News that he was taking a morning walk across campus when he saw another student stuffing the little American flags that had been placed on the lawn into trash bags.
Hope, who is a member of the WU College Republican club, called the incident “very unfortunate.”
“I noticed a classmate was disturbing the monument to those who died in 9/11 attacks,” he told FOX News. “It was placed there by our school’s College Republican organization. And since I’m a part of the group, I immediately contacted group members and notified the police.”
“Thankfully the police came soon after and another student began confronting the individual,” Hope continued.
He said that he filmed but did not try to intervene as the masked student – who has since been identified as Fadel Alkilani – hauled away trash bags full of flags, Meaww reported.
Hope told FOX News that he wanted the police to handle it and they did.
Alkilani, who has been identified as the student senate finance committee chair at WU, posted a response on social media shortly after the video of him removing the flags in trash bags was released, FOX News reported.
His social media accounts have since been switched to private.
But before he did that, he bragged about the vandalism in tweets that said he wanted to “protest against American imperialism and the 900,000 lives lost as a result of post 9/11 war,” according to FOX News.
“I had no intention of removing the flags from the Mudd Field area,” Alkilani tweeted. “My planned protest was to place the bags of flags on Mudd Field along with various statistics explaining the human cost of 9/11 in the past 20 years. I did not deface, destroy, damage, nor steal any flags. Nor did I interfere with any registered event time.”
But his planned protest hasn’t gone over well with the people who created it or the university administration, FOX News reported.
“I think that his action was inappropriate and thankfully, the school agrees with me,” Hope said. “The fact is that each and every one of those flags was for somebody who died in those terrorist attacks. Disturbing them for any sort of protest on that date was inappropriate.”
Police got the flags back from Alkilani and the College Republicans quickly put them back in the ground, FOX News reported.
It turned out that Alkilani had tried to destroy the memorial on Friday night, but campus police stopped him.
College Republicans have called for Alkilani to be expelled from school, FOX News reported.
“At minimum, I believe he should be removed from both SU [student union] and his [resident adviser] position, as what does it say to be a top American institution, and have yourself represented by a student leader who has no respect for property, campus traditions or the remembrance of thousands of lost lives,” WU College Republicans President Nick Rodriguez told university newspaper Student Life.
“Today is about remembering the tragedy, 20 years ago to the day, not to make a political statement,” Rodriguez said. “Any reason he can conjure to remove the flags I find ludicrous.”
Watch the incident unfold in the video below:
WOW: A student senator at @WUSTL was caught on video throwing away 2,977 American flags from conservative students' 9/11: Never Forget Project memorial.
— YAF (@yaf) September 11, 2021