Springfield Mayor will address flag controversy with Hampshire College

Nearly 3,000 people signed a petition asking the federal government to punish the college

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno spoke out at a veteran’s protest on Sunday over the burning of a flag at Hampshire College.

President-elect Donald Trump has even weighed in on the issue via twitter, stating he believes there should be a punishment for burning the American flag, and Mayor Sarno said he’s inclined to agree with some of Trump’s statements.

Sarno told 22News he hopes he can help find a compromise to get flags flying over the campus again. “I know it’s an institution of higher-ed, academia, but a lot of times, common sense should prevail.”

The Mayor was scheduled to speak with Hampshire’s  president Jonathan Lash Thursday morning to discuss the issue, but Marian Sullivan, the Mayor’s communications director, told 22News Lash canceled the phone call. She said the Mayor hopes to reschedule the discussion for Friday, but has not heard back from Lash’s office.  Sarno said he hopes flags can fly over the campus again, after the school decided not to replace the burned flag until the college could hold a campus wide discussion on the issue.

Continuing Coverage: Hampshire College Flag

“I know it’ll be a constructive and respectful conversation,” Sarno said. “Maybe we can come to some sort of plausible agreement to get that flag up.”

After 1,000 veterans protested the college’s decision on Sunday, Sarno said a compromise needs to be made, and flying the flag doesn’t infringe on students First Amendment rights; “But the only reason you’re able to do that is because of our veterans. Their sacrifice, and old glory right there.”

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst said he also plans to meet with college leadership to put the flag back up. Although he said since it’s a private institution, there’s not much the state can do.

As of Tuesday night, nearly 3,000 people signed a petition asking the federal government to pull it’s funding from Hampshire College.