MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich.— Last week two protestors at Central Michigan University burned an American flag just outside a forum which featured the Lithuanian ambassador to the United Kingdom. The ambassador was on campus to honor President Ronald Reagan and discuss the need for freedom and democracy in Belarus, still a Marxist dictatorship.
On Tuesday, February 6, Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas, the Lithuanian ambassador to the UK and formerly ambassador to the United States, spoke to a standing room-only crowd of nearly 200 students, faculty, and community members at the Park Library Auditorium.
At 6:30 p.m., as Ambassador Usackas took the stage, the two protestors set fire to an American flag just a few feet away from the main entrance of the library. Audience members had to skirt the burning flag to enter the auditorium.
“These thugs threatened the safety of almost 200 people inside the auditorium by burning the flag less than a foot from the entrance,” said Dennis Lennox II, president of the Young Americans for Freedom group which sponsored the event.
Two uniformed university police officers responded to the flag burning and chased the protestors away. The protestors were not caught or identified. The university has not yet responded to the incident.
“These troublemakers completely disregarded the safety of the attendees, degraded the flag and this nation, and disrespected Ambassador Usackas, this university, and the legacy of President Reagan,” said Lennox. “I, quite frankly, am disgusted by their actions.”
Members of the group, started with the help of the Leadership Institute’s Campus Leadership Program, showed a brief film honoring President Reagan at the event, which was held on the former president’s birthday.
“The silence from Central Michigan University administrators is simply unacceptable,” said Morton Blackwell, president of the Leadership Institute. “Students should be able to gather without feeling threatened or intimidated — unless the university is interested in protecting the free speech of only certain groups on campus.”
Members of YAF plan to continue their campus events this semester. They will host a screening of “Obsession,” a film about radical Islam, in March. The students also plan to protest (non-violently) leftist speaker, Tom Hayden, when he comes to campus on February 23.
Michelle Miller works with the Leadership Institute.