Malkerson-Cleary campaign posters in Red Square vandalized

Update, 11:06 a.m.: In an email to Vox, GUSA Election Commissioner Adam Giansiracusa (SFS ’12) wrote, “We hope the campaign remains positive, and that this is the last time anything like this occurs.”

Original post, 2:22 a.m.: Earlier tonight, the American flag turned massive GUSA campaign poster in Red Square, which belongs to the Colton Malkerson-Maggie Cleary ticket, was vandalized with the spray-painted words “U.S. WANTED FOR MURDER!” The ticket’s other large poster in Red Square was torn down. The Department of Public Safety has classified the incident as vandalism. For now, the torn down poster has been placed over the vandalized portion of the flag poster.

Both GUSA Speaker Adam Talbot (COL ’12) and GUSA presidential candidate Colton Malkerson (COL ’13) were at the scene tonight. Talbot said, “I hoped campaigning would remain positive. This is an exceptional incident, it injects an unfortunate dynamic into the race. I had hoped candidates could stick to the issues and making Georgetown a better place.” He added, “There is no way to infer that it was another campaign.”

Malkerson told the Voice, “[The flag] wasn’t meant as a political statement. It was meant to be eye-catching and celebrating the fact that we’re in Washington D.C.” In a Youtube video posted from Red Square, Malkerson said, “I’m not sure if they were targeting our campaign or the flag or the message, whatever it is, either way we’re going to keep doing our campaign.” The campaign plans to make the flag “look just as good as it was before.”

Photo: Rachel Calvert

15 Comments on “Malkerson-Cleary campaign posters in Red Square vandalized

  1. Well done, Colton. You are a class act and have handled this in a manner befitting the president that GUSA needs.

  2. First of all, let me just say that it’s unfortunate that this vandalism occurred.

    However, I think it’s shortsighted for the candidates not to have realized that having an American flag as part of their campaign would be construed as a political statement.
    Also, I think the flag sends a clear message about the Malkerson-Cleary campaign: that these candidates are not truly interested in an inclusive Georgetown community. Yes, American citizens make up the majority of students at Georgetown, but quite frankly, georgetown is multinational. International students make up 8-10% of the undergraduate student body. In fact according to OIP statistics, there are over 1500 international students in the University as a whole. I think it’s important that GUSA executives take into the consideration the interests and opinions of the Georgetown community as a whole, not just the majority. Given these realities, what does this massive american flag say about the Malkerson-Cleary campaign?!

    Whether or not the candidates actually intended to convey this message is unknown. However, even if we give them the benefit of the doubt, this shows that they do not have the wisdom or better judgment to become true leaders. I do hope the Georgetown community can see that.

  3. Wasn’t the graffiti also “eye-catching and celebrating the fact that we’re in Washington DC?” Let’s not forget that for many the american flag is itself a symbol of violence and suffering. And frankly, whoever this individual was, they could have chosen to rip the fliers down- instead they left them up and added another layer of “dialogue” to present the voice of the other side. Not everyone in a diverse university body wants to be represented under some jingoistic banner of american patriotism.

  4. Obviously, vandalism has no place at Georgetown, especially in student government campaigns.

    That being said, it’s patently ridiculous to say that a United States flag in Red Square is offensive to international students. I’m not offended by an English, Brazilian, or Chinese flag (as long as they doesn’t fly on the flagpole in Copley Lawn). International students would have every right to put similar flags up in Red Square, and a firestorm would be unleashed if someone said that an international student should take down a Chinese flag because it doesn’t “represent” the Georgetown community.

    No, Georgetown is an American university. American flags shouldn’t be offensive to anyone.

    I do agree that it’s odd that a GUSA campaign would be invoking an American patriotic symbol for their campaign, but jumping to these conclusions of maliciousness goes much too far. Any reasonable person would take Malkerson-Cleary at their word that the flag is simply celebrating Washington DC. Just because they’re Republicans doesn’t mean that they somehow disregard international students.

  5. There is absolutely nothing wrong with displaying something akin to an American flag on a college campus in the United States of America.

    What is wrong is the attempt to validate this extremely juvenile act of vandalization. I’m sure it would not have been a difficult e-mail to send to the respective campaign manager if this offended someone. Instead people readily support this kind of behavior because it’s so “international” and adds a layer of dialogue…to what? The United States of America?

    Here’s a little of my own dialogue. I am a United States Marine and a current undergrad, I have presented a tri-folded American flag to the mother of my best friend and buried countless more of my brothers underneath it.

    I have dedicated most of my life to serving what that flag represents, and for people to sit here and completely disregard the fact that maybe this is hurtful to the young men and women who currently attend this school. People who, at one point in their lives, willingly put themselves in harms way in an attempt to secure a better future for this country, speaks volumes about how open minded/tolerant/accepting this university actually is.

  6. The appropriate way to express discontent with US foreign policy or initiate dialogue on a subject like this is not to desecrate the American flag while studying on the campus of an American university. This is obviously a cruel and ugly thing to do when considering that some of the students currently attending Georgetown have served in the armed forces to protect the freedom and safety of everyone on US soil. I commend you, TM, on the maturity and wisdom with which you responded. You and everyone else who wears that uniform are heroes of mine. I regard all of the men and women who serve this country with the utmost respect and admiration. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your sacrifices, which I will never be able to truly understand. Thank you for embodying what the flag is supposed to represent. I apologize for the insensitivity and immaturity of whoever defaced the flag and I apologize for the attempts of justification seen above.

  7. Friend, lots of people have had to bury brothers and sisters; don’t forget that the importance and sanctity of life extends beyond this nation’s borders. You have public photos with guns and uniform that for many people around the world represent the cause of similar burials to the ones you speak of. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been murdered at the hands of this nation’s military in the last decade and so when you speak so self-righteously, you should remember that.
    You’re right, there is nothing wrong with displaying an american flag in the United States, but part of living in a democracy entails the recognition that other people hold other truths and experiences which they are entitled to share in an equally public manner.

  8. FUCK. YOU. when you have to bury your best friend, Please get back to me, and tell me how they fought to preserve your right to say what you just said. Until then, keep your disgusting, and quite honestly, minor and disrespectful thoughts to your self.

  9. Once again, I don’t condone the vandalism. But honestly, @@ TM gibbons-neff, there’s no need to use that kind of language. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, just as everyone is entitled to pass judgments and vote accordingly. I’m just putting it out there that as a member of a multinational Georgetown community I wouldn’t vote (if I were still a student) for these candidates because I personally don’t think their campaign is truly inclusive or representative of the student body. It’s not the fact that it’s an American flag, it’s the fact that it’s ANY flag at all. I’d have the same criticism if they had put up a Brazilian or Puerto Rican flag.

    The fact is, if they wanted something “eye-catching and celebrating the fact that we’re in Washington DC,” why not put these flyers up in the shape of the Washington Monument?? I mean, really, Washington DC has a ton of other symbolic representations than the American flag. It may take more effort and creativity to be politically correct, but aren’t those exactly the kinds of qualities GUSA leaders should have??

  10. Defacing others’ private property is rude. However, I had half a mind to put a sign of my own admonishing the campaign for try to appropriate the national flag. For me, it’s a symbol of this country’s promises, broken and realized, not Colton Malkerson’s personal ego trip. So, I guarantee you that Colton that didn’t have anyone’s best friend in mind when he put it up.

  11. seriously, shut up. you are offensive and ignorant.

  12. I’m late to this goofy little pity party, but:

    How is covering a flag with an ad not defacement too?

  13. Hi all. I thought I would add a little bit to hopefully close up some loose ends here. I was the person who created and engineered the flag. My first concern @CH, was indeed, that people would construe that the text on the flag was disrespectful. However, my rationale was that we were not writing on a flag that had previously been commissioned, we were merely creating a flag out of campaign flyers, that otherwise would not have existed. I see the point, but to be honest, the amount of positive feedback that was received (naturally outside of this vox environment) far outweighed the negative. Furthermore upon our initial mounting of the flag, a veteran Navy Corpsman and recipient of both the bronze star and purple heart commended us for the flag. If someone in that position has no qualms about it, and respects it, then to be honest, it is difficult for me to consider what I have created as “defacement”.

    I would like to say, to those that are commenting about this flag being a symbol of violence and suffering, and representing ill foreign policy- please remember that this country, and therefore its flag, also represents more than just empty patriotism, the military, and national pride. It represents Freedom of speech, so you can say as you wish in this blog, it represents unity, equality, social justice, progression… Sure, America may not always do the right thing… but it sure as hell tries, and the flag represents a symbol of unity not only for conservative ideals, but just as equally for liberal ideals.

    To say that the Malkerson-Cleary campaign using an American flag is anti-gay, and ant-diversity is ridiculous. There are millions of gay Americans that are proud of this country and her flag, and we are quite simply the most diverse country on this planet.

    I would like to say too, that I am a huge proponent of free speech, and if it were up to us, the flag would have remained in red square. However, DPS removed and confiscated the flag after it was vandalized. Given the amount of work put into the flag, I would have much preferred someone create a seperate banner to display alongside the flag… because to use our hard work and dedication as a backboard for your message which took you 20 seconds is disrespectful not only to the flag, and to our campaign, but to yourself as well. Look at how lazy you are in trying to deliver a message. If you truly believe the US is wanted for murder, go out and do something about it… And keep in mind, although I might not agree with what you say. I truly am willing to die for your right to say it. I only say, to whoever did write that message, when you consider the people like TM, the US marine who posted here, that you need their sacrifices for your right to say what you wish, but they certainly don’t need or want yours.

    And despite all this controversy. Clearly, the idea worked… I mean, look what we’ve got here. People are talking, bickering, and the buzz is alive. So as far as I’m concerned, the flag has more than served its purpose. I only wish that it had not been desecrated, so we could have folded it, and given it a respectful decommissioning.


  14. @Sean Laughlin: I don’t think you really understood the point about diversity that was made in this thread. Yes, the US is diverse, we all know that. No one is arguing about that. But this isn’t a campaign to be president of the United States. This is a campaign to be president of Georgetown, and the Georgetown student body doesn’t consist of 100% American citizens. Hence, using the American flag as a symbol of the campaign inadvertently disenfranchises a small but still important minority group on campus.

    All in all, I’m glad these candidates didn’t win.

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