Teal Flags in East Lansing Show Solidarity With Sexual Assault Victims

Apr 12, 2019

 

Between towering buildings and construction sites in downtown East Lansing, teal flags hang silently, swaying in the wind with messages of support for victims of sexual assault.


 

Credit Joe Dandron / WKAR Public Media

The City of East Lansing, Community Organizers, and the support group POSSE (Parents of Sister Survivors Engage) held a ceremony on Thursday... the final step in the teal flag installations along Grand River Avenue and it's side streets.

 

"Parents began this project last September, the campus felt bare after the removal of the teal bows on trees around campus," said Valerie Von Frank, founder of POSSE, during her speech. "It felt once again that our voices had been silenced ... we envisioned instead that each sister survivor would be recognized by a cloth prayer flag."

  

The ceremony commemorated the 505 teal flags being installed, one for each known survivor of the Larry Nassar's sexual abuse scandal. Messages are scribbled on them by thousands of supporters and students.

 

Credit Joe Dandron / WKAR Public Media

At the dedication, Katie Black and Larissa Boyce, two of the more than 150 women to testify against Nassar in court spoke to the crowd along with East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows.

 

"It shows a little bit of our struggles as well as the moments where we feel empowered," said Black following the ceremony. "It shows that we can be normal people walking down the streets but we have this big story that has completely affected every aspect of our life."

 

East Lansing mayor Mark Meadows at teal flag dedication.
Credit Joe Dandron / WKAR Public Media

The Tibetan prayers flags are strung across the Ann Street plaza and in four other spots along Grand River Ave. A constant representation that a community stands with those effected.