A disabled U.S. Marine veteran is taking action after a professor at his college cut an American flag in half and laid it on the ground for students to step on.
Jess Karcher, a student at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, saw the flag during the school’s 2018 Full-time Faculty Exhibition, an art show that runs through Feb. 21.
“So it appears this is ok to do at central campus Broward College. This is a American Flag Painted white and cut in half and used as a door mat,” Karcher wrote in a Friday Facebook post, while also attaching a photo of the flag.
“I am not sure what the message is they are trying to give, but there was a camera taking pictures of people unknowingly steeping (sic) on it,” he added.
Assistant Professor of Art Lisa Rockford was later identified as the teacher responsible for the art display, which was placed at the entrance to the exhibit.
According to Karcher, she set it up in such a way people would unknowingly step on the flag, while she waited with a camera and laughed. Another professor tried to warn the Marine veteran not to accidentally trample on it, but Rockford still reportedly tried to keep up the ruse.
“When one of the professors tried to stop me from stepping on it, the artist said ‘don’t say anything,’” Karcher told Campus Reform.
“I did not realize it was a flag until after I left the show and a professor told me what it was. So when I went back down to check it out, (and) it was a flag.”
Shocked and appalled by the art display, Karcher wrote a letter to school President David Armstrong, emphasizing that it was “extremely disrespectful,” as well as a “kick in the gut.”
“I am sorry to have to write this letter to you, but I am a student at Broward College Central Campus and I am a disable (sic) Marine Corps Veteran,” he wrote. “People are stepping on the flag as they enter most of whom don’t realize its an American flag.”
“I find this extremely disrespectful and kick in the gut as a veteran. I have lost many friends whose caskets were draped with that same flag.”
Despite the apparent disrespectful nature of the art display, school officials have thus far refused to do anything about it, instead citing Rockford’s freedom of speech.
“Broward College understands that the piece, currently on exhibit, is controversial,” the school said in a statement to Campus Reform.
“The provocative nature of the piece is protected by the artist’s (c)onsitutional rights, specifically the First Amendment right to the Freedom of Speech,” the institution added.
“The piece represents the opinions of the individual artist and they are not indicative of the values at Broward College, the Rosemary Duffy Larson Gallery, or the other artists featured in the exhibition.”
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