Flag and symbol controversies are nothing new in Amherst

Hampshire College flag controversy is not the first issue over symbols in town

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The controversy over the flying of the American flag on the Hampshire College campus is not the only flag issue that has come up in the town of Amherst in recent years.

In 2015, the town’s select board voted to display commemorative American flags in the downtown area every year on September 11, in honor of the victims of the terror attack and to recognize it as a day of national service. This first became an issue in 2003, when the board at the time had voted to display those flags only once every three years, and again in 2010 when it was changed to only once every five years.

Continuing Coverage: Hampshire College flag controversy

Some people have also been upset that the United Nations flag flies on the Amherst Town Common, right outside Town Hall. There is, however, an American flag flying from the building itself, and another pole on the Common is used for the flying of the American flag.

“Amherst flying the United Nations flag, that’s their choice. I don’t find anything problematic with that. They also fly the U.S. and town flag, so I think that’s fine,” Michael McCreary of Northampton said.

A POW/MIA flag also flies from the Amherst Town Hall.

Stolen flags have been an issue in the past, with gay pride and black lives matter flags both being taken from the First Congregational Church last year.

Other symbols have also been controversial in Amherst. Amherst College recently ceased the use of “Lord Jeff” as their unofficial mascot and name for their sports teams. The name is an allusion to Lord Jeffery Amherst, the town’s namesake. Amherst, a British commanding officer during the French and Indian War and Pontiac’s War, suggested that smallpox-infested blankets be distributed to the Native Americans.