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Civil Liberty Groups Call On University Of Kansas To Restore Defaced American Flag

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Neetu Chandak Education and Politics Reporter
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A few civil liberty groups have asked the University of Kansas to restore a defaced American flag that was removed on July 11 after the university faced dissent.

The flag depicted a divided America in black, with a message against the Trump administration’s decisions regarding family separation and withdrawals from the Kyoto Protocol and United Nation’s Human Rights Council, as said by artist Josephine Meckseper on Creative Time’s website.

The university chose to install the flag on July 4 but shortly after took it down after several conservative students and Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer alongside Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, both Republicans, expressed outrage. (RELATED: University Of Kansas Removed Defaced Flag From Public, Placed It In Museum Instead)

Since its removal, the flag has been placed in a museum due to “safety concerns,” according to a July 11 statement by chancellor Douglas Girod.

Posted by Victoria Snitsar on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a non-partisan First Amendment right’s group, along with the ACLU and National Coalition Against Censorship believe the university is censoring artistic expression.

“Censorship won last week, but today, we’re fighting back for the First Amendment,” FIRE’s senior vice president for legal and public advocacy Will Creeley said in a Monday press release. “The law is clear: The government can’t censor artistic expression just because powerful people don’t like it.”

The three organizations sent a joint letter to the Chancellor reminding him that expressive desecration of the flag is constitutionally protected under the 1989 Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson.

“As Chancellor, it is ultimately your obligation to ensure that the expressive rights of those on your campus are not abridged, compromised, or violated, even and especially when political pressure demands otherwise,” the letter said.

The letter also took issue with the chancellor taking down the flag due to “safety concerns,” stating the explanation “may be a pretext for censorship,” allowing the university to adhere to outrage while maintaining First Amendment obligations.

The three organizations have asked the Chancellor to provide a response to the letter by July 30.

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