Commentary: Flagging Free Speech: Washington University Student Triggers Free Speech Debate by Removing 9/11 Memorial

Jonathan Turley

There are different views of what occurred on 9/11 that are expressed (appropriately) on our campuses. Indeed, while some have criticized the holding of critical forums on the anniversary, it is precisely the type of diversity of viewpoints that sustains higher education. However, a student senator at Washington University in St. Louis has triggered a free speech debate after he allegedly removed American flags from a 9/11 memorial display and threw them into the trash. While condemning the action, the school has taken no action against Fadel Alkilani, vice president of finance for the student union.

In a video posted by Young Americans for Freedom, a student identified as Alkilani can be seen stuffing the 2,977 small American flags into bags and attempting to carry them away.  He reportedly attempted earlier to destroy the memorial but was stopped by campus police. Alkilani reportedly told YAF, “I did not violate any university or legal policy. Now go away.”