American flag display sparks debate at University of Cincinnati

Contributed photo/WCPO-TV

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Contributed photo/WCPO-TV

An artistic display of the American flag has brought up the debate of freedom of expression at another Ohio university.

Earlier this week, University of Cincinnati student Harry Sanchez Jr. displayed an exhibit with one American flag upside down, with another one hanging by a noose.

Sanchez told our news partner WCPO-TV in Cincinnati he created the display in response to the recent presidential election.

“It’s not like an attack on anyone in particular,” Sanchez, a fine arts graduate student said. “Our country is in distress. People have issues with each other. You can see the polarity with people so one side or the other.”

Sanchez told the station he never expected his display to inspire so much support from some, and outrage from others. He said he’s witnessed the social media firestorm with people expressing their opinions on his display and use of freedom of expression.

“A lot of art no one cares about, but you make one that really touches and then everyone goes crazy,” he said.

In November, the issue of freedom of expression arose at the University of Dayton, after an American flag altered to appear that it was burned, was displayed in the university's art department. The display, erected following the presidential election, sparked many to write hand-written notes with comments ranging from support of the display, to displeasure in its depiction of the flag.

In Cincinnati another student, Thomas Mooney, an Army veteran, posted photos of military men and women around Sanchez’s display to honor the flag as he sees it.

“It represents the sacrifice that so many people died for that freedom,” Mooney said.

“I want to be very adamant that I do support the freedom of speech and everyone is entitled to exercise that right. I just wanted to remind the person who did this what that flag means to certain people too,” Mooney said.

The University of Cincinnati issued a statement that said as a public institution, they supported and encouraged students to engage in these types of conversations.