Home Youth activism September 11 Memorial created by Young Americans for Freedom at U.Va. vandalized – The Daily Rider

September 11 Memorial created by Young Americans for Freedom at U.Va. vandalized – The Daily Rider

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The 9/11 Never Forget Project hosted by Young Americans for Freedom at U.Va. was found vandalized on Saturday night. Flags were torn from the grass and trampled on, a table was overturned, and posters were taken down and scattered around the grounds.

The event, held at the amphitheater that morning, commemorated the lives lost in the September 11, 2001 attacks by placing 2,977 US flags in the grass. About 70 people attended the event, including students, members of the Charlottesville community and the university administration, including university president Jim Ryan and Ian Solomon, dean of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

YAF is a conservative organization for youth activism with a presence in many colleges across the country. Refounded at the University in 2013, YAF’s mission is to disseminate ideas of individual freedom, strong national defense, free enterprise and traditional values.

The program began with a candle-lighting ceremony and was followed by the national anthem, self-reflection and a moment of silence. YAF’s keynote speaker – Retired Colonel Dan Moy – shared his story and led the participants in prayer. Moy is a speaker in Batten and chairman of the Charlottesville Republican Party.

When the group returned to the memorial site that evening, about a quarter of the flags were destroyed and a table with pins and YAF stickers for event attendees was returned, according to student Nickolaus Cabrera, a student from second year and president of YAF. at U.Va. Another YAF board member said he saw one of the event signs in Boylan Heights.

YAF members contacted the university’s police department, which sent a representative to ascertain the vandalism. The UPD has confirmed that it has responded to the incident, which is under further investigation – more information will not be available until a police report is released.

According to Cabrera, a UPD officer who responded to the incident viewed surveillance footage and reported to YAF that an individual wearing a jersey had spilled on the table. UPD confirmed that there were footage of the alleged incident, but provided no further details.

Cabrera and Julianna Marsh, a fourth-year student and YAF secretary, condemned the vandalism of a memorial event.

“We hope the subject will be held accountable for his actions,” Cabrera said. “I think this vandalism, especially on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, is hopefully something the student body can support by acknowledging its wrongdoing.”

Marsh said the vandalism was “disgusting” and “unfair” in an emailed statement to Cavalier Daily.

“The vandalism of the 9/11 Never Forget Project indicated the disrespect that some U.Va. the students have for the 2,977 innocent lives lost in the tragedy, ”Marsh wrote.

Vandalism was not the only source of controversy arising from the event – Ryan was also criticized on social media after posting a series of photos praising the student group on Instagram and Twitter.

“Many thanks to YAF @ UVA for hosting this morning’s moving event commemorating the lives lost on September 11,” Ryan captioned.

YAF chapters have sparked nationwide debates for inviting controversial speakers to college campuses, where they were often greeted with protest by student groups.

YAF has already drawn criticism at the university – in November, the YAF national chapter released a video of a student council meeting alleging that “left” student representatives “attacked” Cabrera, who at the time was a representative of the student council. The Student Council denounced the post in a resolution and said the video was “selectively edited” to distort the discussion. Student Council members targeted by YAF in the video have received threats of physical violence.

Students and other social media users criticized Ryan’s choice to thank the group on Instagram and Twitter following the 9/11 memorial event.

“The only charitable interpretation of this is that you didn’t know how terrible YAF is,” Twitter user Gareth Gaston wrote. “If this is the case, you must immediately repudiate your statement. And if not, well, we can only assume that you support them. “

Chinese literature professor Jack Chen also denounced Ryan’s affiliation with YAF in a to respond to the tweet.

“Did you know YAF denies systemic racism, ridicules common sense policies that seek to limit the spread of COVID-19 on campuses, and regularly calls your colleagues ‘crazy leftists?’ “Chen tweeted, referring to a headline published by the national YAF newspaper. page. “You are either ignorant or cynical with this statement.”

Chen explained his tweet in an emailed statement to Cavalier Daily.

“It is disappointing to see our university president embrace an organization whose main purpose appears to be to provoke outrage from outside the university and to direct that outrage at the most vulnerable members of the university community,” Chen said.

Ryan weighed in on the matter in a statement provided by University Communications.

“September 11, 2001 was a day that forever changed our nation, and I was grateful for the opportunity to honor and remember those who lost their lives and those affected by the tragic events of that day, ”said Ryan. “On a personal level, as someone who lost a friend at the World Trade Center and whose other friends and family were directly and forever affected by the attacks, I appreciated the opportunity to reflect. quietly with colleagues, students and other members of our community. “

Cabrera said it “means a lot” to the group Ryan posted about the event on social media.

“I wish you knew for once that the student body could, you know, put aside the fact that we’re YAF at U.Va.,” Cabrera said. “I’m so glad President Ryan posted a post because I’m not sure if he really knows the amount of hate and criticism Young Americans for Freedom at U.Va. gets.