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A man was caught on camera ripping small American flags out of a 9/11 memorial at Columbia University Monday.

The unidentified man did not stop after he stripped the memorial of 50 flags and threw them in the trash, but returned to collect more, reported Campus Reform.

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“Angered, I ran over and asked him what he was doing, and was laughed at with no proper response,” said Aanand Shah, an ROTC cadet who filmed the event. “I asked a nearby Public Safety officer what could be done; but he was well within his rights to protest, so I recorded the video.”

Shah began replanting the flags with four other witnesses. Others joined and soon 15 individuals were taking part in the effort.

“I’m (personally) okay with people kneeling for the anthem or burning the flag in dissent or protest — I will fight to defend their right to do so,” said Shah. “I countered this man because (in my opinion) the tragedy and the memory of Sep 11, 2001, and the flags on that lawn, shouldn’t devolve into politics and disrespect when it’s meant to serve as a symbol of remembrance and memorial.”

Ari Boosalis, president of Columbia’s College Republicans chapter, said he was not surprised at the incident and that his campus had disregarded American values since the election.

“September 11th is a day where all Americans no matter their race, creed, or political affiliation should come together to remember those who have fallen and risked their lives for our safety,” said Boosalis to Campus Reform. “This event is by no means political, but a day of remembrance and tribute, especially to the first responders who gave up their lives in order to save others.”

“The flags commemorating September 11 were quickly replaced by student​s together with​ University officials,” said the university in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Columbia lost dozens of ​our alumni in the attack 16 years ago, and they ​- and the many others lost – ​will always be in our thoughts.”

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