Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin released a statement Monday morning regarding a photo of men brandishing a Confederate flag outside of the Phi Kappa Theta house near MU’s campus in 2012.
The photograph was tweeted late Sunday night by the Twitter account FratScenery, which tasks itself with posting “images of fraternity & sorority houses across the country.” The account is managed by Leo Blake Carter, an alumnus of East Kentucky University and the Sigma Chi fraternity.
A representative from the account said they use a third-party program to schedule tweets and that the photograph was most likely planned in January or February. The date of the photo’s publication was “bad timing,” they said via Twitter.
The photograph was likely taken in the days surrounding a September 8, 2012 football game between the University of Georgia and MU. Three of the five men in the photo are wearing Bulldogs apparel and a University of Georgia flag flies alongside the Confederate Navy Jack.
It is unclear whether or not the men photographed are MU students, but Loftin said that he does not think they were. Regardless, he admonished the flag’s presence on campus.
“Especially considering recent events in South Carolina concerning the Confederate flag, this photo may be considered offensive and possibly even threatening to some of our community members,” Loftin said in a statement. “MU officials do not condone any activities that could threaten the safety of our community.”
On July 10th, South Carolina state legislators voted to take down the Confederate flag flying outside the statehouse in Columbia. The decision to remove the flag came after weeks of political and public discourse prompted by a June 17 mass shooting in Charleston. The shooter, Dylann Roof, murdered members of a bible study group at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Photographs of Roof flaunting white supremacist insignia surfaced shortly after the shooting, suggesting a racial motive and leading authorities to investigate the shooting as a hate crime.
Politicians around country, including President Barack Obama, mourned the death of the Charleston churchgoers. Obama’s June 26th eulogy of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney capstoned weeks of lamentation and cemented the shooting’s place in American civil rights history.
Protests against the confederate flag’s removal in South Carolina have sprouted up across the South, most recently in Ocala, Florida, where thousands gathered the morning of July 13th. Shots were fired in an argument over the flag’s removal, but nobody was hurt, CBS News reported.
Representatives from Phi Kappa Theta, the Interfraternity Council, MU administration and the University of Georgia could not be reached for comment.