On Wednesday, Sep. 30, a pro-life memorial at the University of North Texas (UNT) was attacked. The memorial, composed of 1,000 pink flags and a few informational signs, was set up earlier that day by the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) to commemorate the victims of abortion. Each flag represented 60,000 lives lost to abortion since the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade.
“The memorial was intended to help students understand the impact of abortion in a meaningful way,” says Kelly Neidert, chairwoman of YCT at UNT. “We were wanting to draw attention to overturning Roe v. Wade because that’s being talked about a lot in the political sphere with Amy Coney Barrett being the SCOTUS nomination.”
Before it was even placed, UNT students who were hostile to the idea of the memorial were already threatening on social media to take it down. Many tweeted their intentions to take down the memorial in response to YCT’s announcement of their memorial a week before it was placed. “Can’t wait to spend a Wednesday night ripping out a [sic] 1000 flags” said one twitter user, with many others expressing similar sentiments. “Looks like I’ll be tearing them up,” threatened another, who also sent a direct message to Neidert encouraging her to kill herself.
Many of these students were angry about the memorial’s pro-life message. They were also concerned that YCT was able to conduct such an activity despite UNT’s restrictions on student organizations hosting events due to COVID. YCT had direct permission from the school to place the memorial.
Soon after the memorial was placed, vandals attacked it, removing and stealing 350 of the flags as well as the display signs meant to inform UNT students about the purpose of the memorial. They also refused discussion while lobbing profanities at the YCT members who were there to witness the vandalism.
“I was appalled when I saw students planning ‘capture the flag’ games on twitter, and I honestly didn’t think they would go through with it,” says Neidert, who is a constant target of threats from students who disagree with her and with YCT. “It was so disappointing to see the vandalism and theft that occurred over such a sensitive topic.”
One individual has been apprehended and cited for vandalism and theft. 180 of the flags have since been recovered.
Cover image taken by Madison Mills