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The unrest in Ferguson, Missouri brought about many points of contention that evolved into a collective, dualistic mindset: an “us-versus-them mentality” that set community members at odds with each other. A notable instance of divisiveness was the desecration of the American flag by some demonstrators, the merit of which is hotly debated. Some see the desecration of the flag as a powerful means of protest, a literal destruction of a perceived symbol of institutional oppression. Others see it as the ultimate insult to our nation and our nation’s service members who volunteer to uphold the very foundations that protect demonstrators. In the months following the unrest, the demonstrations made their way onto the campus of Saint Louis University, a Jesuit institution in St. Louis, Missouri, organizing the Occupy SLU movement. In the aftermath of this movement, researchers asked students to share their experiences. This research has its origins in that study, focused upon the student experiences on and near campus. This paper provides a brief overview of the historical foundations of flag desecration and evaluates the perceptions of students concerning the use of flag desecration as a tactic during the Occupy SLU movement.



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