Updated: 6:52 p.m.
In an email sent to faculty and staff on Monday, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing Alex Boekelhide revealed that the demonstration set for tomorrow will not be taking place.
“As always, Pasadena City College takes no position on the substance of any demonstration of constitutionally protected free speech that takes place on our campus,” Boekelhide said. “ As a fundamental part of its educational mission, Pasadena City College supports the free expression of the ideas and opinions of its students, faculty, staff, and community. It is part of our identity as an institution of higher learning and a core foundation of our American values.”
There was no reason given as to why the demonstration would not occur but it was stated that it may be rescheduled for the spring semester.
While students are taking finals next Thursday, the Pasadena City College club Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) will be publicly burning the flag of the Islamic State on campus.
YAL is an officially chartered club at PCC and one of 600 chapters across the nation aiming to “identify, educate, train and mobilize young people committed to winning on principle,” as specified on their website.
“Our primary purpose of the event was to show solidarity with the victims of terror but also to protest the eroding civil libertines of Americans in exchange for security,” said Victor Reyes, club vice president, in a press release. “It’s concerning how some influential professors and administrators are attempting to stop this event, but we believe such an exercise is protected by the First Amendment.”
The Associated Students (AS) held a special meeting Thursday, but did not discuss the YAL’s plan to burn the ISIS flag.
“At the moment I have no comment regarding [the flag burning],” said Irving Morales, Associated Students president. “I just hope our Lancers focus on their finals and make sure they enjoy our Relaxation Week.”
Former Student Trustee Marshall Lewis is planning to attend the event.
“Yes people are upset about it, yes I care that you’re upset,” Lewis said in the same press release.
Even though Woodrow Johnston is YAL’s club president, he said that he in no way wants to be associated with this.
“Young Americans for Liberty is not just Woodrow, members are free to pursue their activism with liberty in mind with our clubs support,” Johnston said. “I have personally chosen not to involve myself in this activism project that Marshall Roe is running but I wish him the best in his endeavor.”
Marshall Roe, outreach director of PCC’s chapter of YAL, is a returning student to PCC and Navy veteran. Roe has been actively leading the event gathering support and all the necessary permits and paperwork.
“This is a symbolic act. Yet, a necessary one, we cannot surrender to the Islamic State’s terror, or allow our individual liberties to be eroded by Government overreach,” Roe said in the release. “Around the world the flag of the Islamic State has been burned, from Erbil to London and now here to Pasadena. We welcome all members of the PCC and Pasadena communities, and look forward to questions and civil debate after the event.”
Ian Paris, president of the YAL chapter at the University of Missouri, has been advising Roe about the legal aspects of burning a flag on campus. In October, Paris led a demonstration where he burned an ISIS flag in front of a gathering of 125 people. However, Paris has been quick to point out that the YAL does not condone Islamophobia.
“Today is not designed to incite you to hatred of the Muslim religion, but instead to urge you to no longer turn a blind eye to the terrors and atrocities which a small sect has decided to inflict upon the world,” Paris said at his chapter’s ISIS flag burning.
According to Paris, this is not about the Muslim religion but about standing up to terrorism.
“I don’t think Marshall and other YAL members are Islamophobic,” said Paris.
Campus police are aware of the club’s intentions of burning the flag on campus and recognize it as part of a legal demonstration.
“I don’t believe they have been advised to not do it, that would be something that infringes on their First Amendment rights,” said PCC Police Sgt. Bill Abernathie. “They want to do a peaceful demonstration so we’re all willing to accept that and allow that to happen. If it gets out of hand, obviously we have to get involved.”
A Pasadena fire marshal representative said that they have not been contacted for any permits as of Wednesday and that if 50 or more people attended the event that a permit would be required.
John Orona contributed to this story.
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