Washington University in St. Louis Probes 9/11 Memorial Vandalism

Washington University in St. Louis Probes 9/11 Memorial Vandalism An American flag placed along with a photo of the Twin Towers. (Anthony Behar – Pool/Getty)

By Eric Mack | Monday, 13 September 2021 01:24 PM

Washington University in St. Louis is investigating a student alleged to have "disrupted" a 9/11 memorial on campus Saturday, removing 2,977 small American flags and stuffing them into garbage bags.

The number of flags represented the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.

"I want to make it very clear that, as an institution, we find the actions of this student to be reprehensible," chancellor Andrew D. Martin told Storyful. "The removal of the flags impeded the ability of individuals to commemorate the lives lost on 9/11 and to process the trauma of that day."

Nathaniel Hope recorded a video of student Fadel Alkilani holding plastic bags stuffed with the flags he pulled from the ground, telling Storyful he was "disturbed" and "shocked" by the incident.

Alkilani told Storyful in a statement he had "no intention of removing the flags" and his "full protest did not have the chance to be actualized."

Alkilani also said he intended to put the bags filled with the flags on Washington University's Mudd Field along with statistics "explaining the human cost of 9/11 in the past 20 years."

His statement also claimed he "did not deface, destroy, damage, nor steal any flags."

"I assert that I did not violate any University Code of Conduct policy, though the conduct process is undergoing," he added.

After the flags were pulled from the ground they were reportedly replanted within hours, according to local reports.