Colyer aide: Altered flag at KU is coming down

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW/AP) -- Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer's spokesman says the top administrator at the University of Kansas has promised to take down an art display that involves an altered U.S. flag.

Colyer spokesman Kendall Marr said the governor spoke Wednesday afternoon with university Chancellor Douglas Girod about the display. Marr said Girod promised that the altered flag would be taken down quickly.

“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," Colyer had initially said.

The piece, called Untitled (Flag 2), is the last of a series of flag pieces that have flown on the Lawrence campus in the last several months as part of a national art project. Kansas is one of 11 institutions at 14 locations participating in "Pledges of Allegiance" project, which organizers say is designed to address social issues and inspire community among cultural institutions.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports the flag includes two black shapes that the artist, Josephine Meckseper, says represents a deeply polarized country. It also includes a black and white sock that Meckseper says takes on new meaning during the current controversy over immigration.

Victoria Snitsar is a Senior at the university and also the Chairwomen of the Kansas College Republicans. She said she is concerned that the flag could impact the image of KU for incoming students.

"Incoming students, incoming freshmen and potential study body members that could be going to KU in the future, they come out of the union and they come here for orientation and that's the first thing that they see," Snitsar said. "I really don't want KU to be on the record as a campus that doesn't stand for American values."

University spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson says private money paid for the project, which was intended to encourage conversation about the current political climate.

After the flag came down KU Chancellor Douglas Girod posted the following statement on KU's website:

Dear Colleagues,

There has been much discussion today about a public art exhibit on our campus featuring an artist’s depiction of an American flag. Our Spencer Museum, along with other institutions nationally, have participated in this year-long series of exhibits intended to foster difficult conversations.

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.

We have begun the process of relocating the exhibit to the Spencer Museum of Art, where we can continue the important conversation it has generated.

Sincerely,

Doug

Douglas A. Girod