In a presumed instance of politically-motivated vandalism, the Princeton Pro-Life flag display in front of Frist Campus Center was destroyed early Thursday morning.
The 347 flags on the north lawn were meant to represent the lives of students who might have become members of the University's Class of 2010 had abortion not been legalized.
Pro-Life president Tom Haine '08 said the vandalism took place sometime between the hours of 11 p.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday.
Caroline Chopko '07 saw the destruction at 4:15 a.m. and immediately sent Haine an email to inform him of the damage.
"I was kind of sad that Princeton students would choose to add in such destruction," Chopko said of the damage. "But I was happy that people are discussing the issue."
When Haine woke up at roughly 7 a.m. Thursday, he saw Chopko's email and went to Frist to see the damage for himself.
The pink and blue flags were pulled out of the ground and there were "strewn coat hangers all around," Haine said.
In addition, the sign in front of the display was trampled and signs were put in place that read "support smaller class sizes: support abortion" and "347 rusty coat hangers were saved from mangling and mutilation."
"I didn't want the pre-frosh to see" what had happened, Haine said.
Along with the damage to the Pro-Life display, the pro-choice banners students had put up were also destroyed.
Haine called Public Safety "just before 8 a.m" Thursday morning. When the Public Safety officer arrived, she took the sign to be fingerprinted, but told Haine that the incident was low on the department's list of priorities.
"I highly doubt I'll ever find out who did it," Haine added.
Graduate student Jeris Stueland Yruma, co-chair of Princeton Pro-Choice Vox, said she did not know anything about the incident because she was off campus Thursday.
"Of course Princeton Pro-Choice Vox is opposed to any actions that deprive individuals of their civil rights, including the right to free speech," Yruma said.
Anne Twitty, another graduate student who co-chairs Pro-Choice Vox, added that the club has no involvement with the protest signs above the display.
"It is unclear why someone has written 'Princeton Univ. Pro-Choice' on the back of the sign that reads 'It's a woman's right to choose,' " Twitty said.
This instance of vandalism comes on the heels of a similar incident in March, when the LGBT Center reported the vandalism of posters announcing Pride Week events.
Haine said Princeton Pro-Life was working with the LGBT Center to come out with a public statement condemning this kind of behavior. He said the two organizations agreed that vandalism is "not consistent with any kind of intellectual honesty."
Despite plans for a joint statement, Haine said there are differences between the vandalism of the LGBT Center posters and the damage done to the display on Wednesday.
"This seems a little bit more vindictive. They had to accumulate many coat hangers. They had to plan this in advance," he said. "It was not just an act of passion."
"It's tragic to see such immaturity on campus and it's sad that people cannot respond to this debate any other way," Haine said. "We expect more from our fellow Princetonians."
Related— War of the words (April 18, 2006)
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