As many as 20 vandals destroyed an elaborate pro-life display at DePaul University, the nation’s largest Catholic university.
The Young Americans for Freedom chapter received permission to erect 500 blue and pink flags to mark the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. The flags represented the number of unborn children aborted every day.
YAF spokesperson Kate Edwards told Fox News that surveillance video shows as many as 20 people ripping up the flags and stuffing them into trash cans.
“They had been thrown and stuffed into various trash cans outside the library,” Edwards said. “If this happens on the largest Catholic university campus in our nation – it can happen anywhere.”
University spokesperson Cindy Lawson told Fox News they are investigating the vandalism and are attempting to find out who is responsible. She could not confirm the exact number of flags that were destroyed.
“DePaul has a very clear free speech policy,” Lawson said. “And although we don’t expect all of our students to be of the same mind on issues, we do stress the importance of respecting others’ right to freely express their opinions on issues.”
Kristopher Del Campo, the chairman of the DePaul YAF chapter, told Fox News he was “shocked” by what happened.
“It is a sad thing to see that liberal minded students aren’t more tolerant, and don’t respect the views of those who respect the lives of the unborn,” he said. “It’s really discouraging and I’m saddened by that.”
Edwards said the YAF chapter had secured permission from the university to set up the display. She said it’s just another example of intolerance on a university campus.
“Conservatives are being silenced every day on campuses around the country and we must help them continue to fight – even in the most hostile environment in America – the college campus,” she said.
Edwards said it’s not the first time YAF chapters have been victims of criminal acts.
“We had protestors stomp on American flags during a 9-11 Never Forget project,” she said. “One student burned a flag with a lighter – in front of me. These are not isolated incidents.”
She said many universities are reluctant to even let conservatives start clubs on their campuses.
“We here things happening to our YAF chapters all the time,” she said. “We’ve had students deal with discrimination and intolerance from administrators who don’t want them on campus.”
“It’s disgraceful, yet not surprising, that students are encountering resistance with expressing their first amendment rights on college campuses,” Bigelow told Fox News.
She said the attacks on conservative students are becoming more common.
“ But it’s particularly sad that it is happening with an event commemorating the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade, especially when only 44 percent of adults under the age of 30 know that Roe dealt with the issue of abortion rights,” she said.
The Family Research Council, based in Washington, D.C., was also quick to react to the destruction.
“The abortion lobby and their defenders increasingly run away from debate and try to shut down debate,” said Cathy Ruse, FRC’s senior fellow for legal studies and a former spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Destroying this display is just one example (assuming abortion supporters are behind the destruction).”
“One of the hallmarks of the pro-life movement is that it is eager to discuss and debate the merits of its view that abortion is bad for women, men, children, and society,” said the FRC’s Ruse. “Peaceful public displays like this one, using pink and blue flags to represent the individual girls and boys whose lives were taken unjustly but legally, are classic free speech: they invite discussion and debate, and that is all to the good.”