AMERICAN FLAG BURNED AT LSU
By: Mike Costello
At 5:15am Monday morning, LSU Police responded to a call on the Parade Ground after the American flag had been cut down from the War Memorial and burned (Click to learn about flag laws http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/faq.htm). Ashes of America’s utmost symbol of freedom covered the memorial, used to honor LSU veterans who have given their lives in wars dating back to World War I.
The incident happened the morning after President Obama announced to the nation that U.S. forces had killed Osama Bin Laden.
A suspect, 23-year-old University Student and Baton Rouge resident, Isaac Eslava was seen fleeing the scene as police engaged in a foot chase. LSU police recovered Eslava’s vehicle nearby and found a knife with fibers from the cable supporting the flags on the War Memorial as well as drug paraphernalia in his vehicle.
According to a press release issued Wednesday by the University, Eslava is charged with two felony counts of simple criminal damages, arson, theft, resisting an officer and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police say there was about $7,530 worth of damage at the memorial.
LSU’s Army ROTC battalion (www.lsu.edu/milscience) got the news that morning and by sunrise set up a temporary American flag to be flown over the Parade Ground until LSU’s administration could replace the damaged cable and flags. Together with the Air Force and Marines on campus, cadets took shifts to guard the area throughout the day.
Justin Bryson , LSU Junior and Army cadet said, “It’s a War Memorial. People died for those colors to fly here. When we [the cadets] found out the colors were burned, we took it upon ourselves to replace them.”
By noon Monday, LSU students had organized at the Parade Ground for a peace prayer to pray over the suspect and the University’s damaged monument. LSU junior David Jones addressed the crowd of almost 100 students and faculty and local media, “I could tell people that [what happened] was wrong and we can move forward but I wasn’t satisfied with that and I knew that other students wouldn’t be satisfied with it either.”
Ernie Ballard, University Relations Director, said the LSU administration is very proud of the way students banded together to stay positive in the wake of such a tragic incident (Visit the LSU Facebook page to see what students are saying http://www.facebook.com/geauxlsu) . “It showed patriotism, unity that everyone had coming together and the diligent work that ROTC, facility services and everyone had,” said Ballard.
A press release issued by the University Thursday afternoon said that suspect Isaac Eslava turned himself in to LSU Police at 2:50pm (Watch the video of Eslava being taken into custody http://www.lsureveille.com/video-lsupd-makes-arrest-in-flag-burning-1.2559954). Eslava’s lawyer saw a press release earlier in the week and facilitated Eslava’s return to Baton Rouge and his apprehension. Eslava remained silent when questioned by police. He was transferred to East Baton Rouge Parish prison for holding.