University of Missouri students deface Students for Life display

One individual reportedly stole almost 100 flags on her own until discovered by the campus police.

'I’ve been very blessed to have a great group and a lot of resources and people in the community reach out. We’re going to make a difference,' president of Mizzou Students for Life told Campus Reform is a private meeting

Mizzou Students for Life (SFL), an independent pro-life group at the University of Missouri, set up a display called the Cemetery of the Innocent on campus. The display included 1,000 pink flags that each represented 63,000 aborted fetuses worldwide. 

Numerous flags were stolen during the days of the display.

Through a campus approval process, SFL reserved Carnahan Quad, where they would set up the display for 48 hours from December 5 through December 7.

“Tonight we set up our ‘Cemetery of the Innocent’ display right in the middle of Mizzou’s campus for everyone to see. There are 1,000 flags - each represents 63,000 babies nation wide who lost their lives to abortion,” the group posted to Instagram

The group also said “The flags and signs are private property. Vandalism will not be tolerated.”

Yet, that declaration did not keep students from stealing flags from the display. 

While tabling, members of SFL witnessed and recorded students stealing flags, expressing to them that their actions were illegal and asked them to stop. 

[RELATED: ‘Pro-life memorials vandalized at two California universities’]

When students continued, they were reported to the MUPD, Kaitlyn Banning, president of Mizzou Students for Life, told Campus Reform is a private meeting.

One individual reportedly stole almost 100 flags on her own until discovered by the MUPD. It is unknown whether any students faced disciplinary action or whether they were affiliated with any registered student organization. However, the university stated that they are currently investigating reports and also clarified in a statement that students don’t have the right to remove or deface another organization’s displays, as stated in the university’s free speech policy.

“A lot of times, they wouldn’t return the flags until I started to point out that the MUPD were showing up,” said Banning. 

The organization has faced other backlash as a result of the display and its pro-life beliefs. 

Anonymous flyers around campus, which were obtained by Campus Reform, are petitioning to ban Mizzou Students for Life from campus, stating, “This club has been actively spewing factually inaccurate claims based in hatred.” 

Several members of the organization have also been the victims of death threats, which have been reported to campus police, according to Banning.  

[RELATED: ‘Christian college administrator calls pro-life students ‘antagonizers’’]

“We had a lot of people obviously say awful things that nobody should have to hear. It’s a freedom of speech type thing. We reserved the places. We have every right to do it. We have every right to exist on campus,” said Banning.

The organization also gained attention of the university’s meme page, which shared an informational post that critiques the men involved in the pro-life group. 

“White men are consistently in the room when choices are made over women’s bodies,” the post reads. 

Banning clarified most members are female. She noted that refusing membership and leadership positions to men violates the discrimination clause in the club’s constitution and the university’s equity policy

Despite facing backlash, the organization also reported receiving an increase in donations from community supporters due to social media. 

Apart from advocating for pro-life policies, the group assists a pregnancy center in Columbia through fundraising and volunteering. 

But they are doing much more.

This year, they’ve been advocating for the university to provide more resources to pregnant students on campus, such as opening the university daycare to students in need. 

“We’re trying to make it to where students that have children can get reduced if not free daycare during their class schedules so they don’t have to choose between their baby or their education,” Banning said. 

Over winter break and next semester, they will be running a homeless initiative to raise money for supplies to distribute to the homeless population in Columbia.

“I’ve been very blessed to have a great group and a lot of resources and people in the community reach out. We’re going to make a difference,” Banning concluded.

Campus Reform contacted all parties mentioned. This article will be updated accordingly.