The University of Kansas has removed controversial flag art flying outside Spooner Hall.
The removal of the flag came after backlash online from state leaders as well as some on campus.
“This is America and to deface the flag that millions of people have died for in this manner on a state owned campus is deplorable,” said Paul Bahnmaier who was on campus Wednesday. “It’s not art, this is a disgrace.”
The flag was part of a 16-flag series on campus called “Pledge of Allegiance,” a nationwide project started by the New York nonprofit Creative Time.
“If the intention is to start conversation then I think they are doing their job,” said student Abhay Alaukik. “I just realized it when they pointed it out to me. I didn’t even notice the art and the sock art up there.”
The flag included two black shapes designed to look like the United States. The artist said it represented a deeply polarized country. It also had a black and white sock to represent the current immigration controversy.
“I think flying a defaced flag on this campus is just the exact opposite of what it means to be a Jayhawk,” said student Ian Ballinger.
After a picture of the flag was posted on social media, state leaders took to twitter calling it disrespectful.
Governor Jeff Colyer said he spoke with KU Chancellor Doug Girod and Kansas Board of Regents President Blake Flanders to express his disappointment with the flag and demanded it be taken down.
In a statement Colyer said “The disrespectful display of a desecrated American flag on the KU campus is absolutely unacceptable. Men and women have fought and bled for that flag and to use it in this manner is beyond disrespectful.”
Veteran Steve Watkins, a Republican who is running in the 2nd congressional district, called the flag disrespectful, but said the artist had a right to make it.
“I don’t like it,” Watkins said. “I respect those rights, I’ve fought for those rights and I’ve buried soldiers, friends of mine. And they’ve been draped in the flags, these very flags, for the rights that they’ve got to deface the flag, burn the flag, stomp on it. They’ve got those rights and that’s fine. I’d just simply ask they thank a solider.”
KU removed the flag at 4:30 p.m.
In a news release, Chancellor Girod said the flag would be relocated to the Spencer Museum of Art.
“Over the course of the day, the conversation around this display has generated public safety concerns for our campus community. While we want to foster difficult dialogue, we cannot allow that dialogue to put our people or property in harm’s way,” the release said.