Around 1,000 veterans gathered at a western Massachusetts college Sunday to protest the school’s decision to stop flying all flags, including U.S. flags, after students allegedly burned a flag in protest of Donald Trump’s election victory.
Hampshire College in Amherst outraged many with its decision to remove all flags from campus. Protesters expressed their displeasure and hoped to reach out to students during their demonstration.
“They took down my flag, they have a right to that, I’m here to defend their right to do that but I want them to understand how bad that hurts me,” veteran Jerry Maguire told WWLP-TV.
The station reported that hundreds all over the New England region joined the protest, including Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. He stood with the veterans as well.
“For the students here and the president and board of trustees have risen from what the veterans sacrificed, this flag and not to fly the flag on this campus if you were in some other countries around the world it would be handled very, very differently,” Sarno said.
Other veterans and demonstrators were heard chanting “U.S.A.,” according to Fox 25 Boston.
The WWLP-TV reported that the protest was largely peaceful, aside from one isolated incident.
Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash didn’t attend the event, according to WWLP-TV.
The station reported last week that debates over flag flying have occurred on campus before. For more than a decade flying commemorative 9/11 flags have been a hot-button issue until the school board voted to fly those flags annually.
Lash said the Amherst campus will talk with students and staff about properly utilizing flags in the future.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.