American flag | KCUR

American flag

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Hundreds of people in T-shirts reading "Art is the voice of freedom" fanned out along either side of Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, Kansas, Saturday in anticipation of a so-called Defend the Flag demonstration. 

Clay Mead, owner of Hog Holler Saloon in Ozawkie, Kansas, organized the Defend the Flag event, which he told KCUR, was not a demonstration or a protest.

Nicholas Prakas/Creative Time

The Spencer Museum of Art and The Commons at the University of Kansas in Lawrence released a joint statement Friday supporting freedom of expression after a piece of art depicting the U.S. flag with black marks on it was moved inside the museum.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Update: Thursday afternoon, Secretary of State Kris Kobach called for the controversial flag artwork be removed from public display at the Spencer Museum of Art altogether. Gov. Jeff Colyer was the first to raise the issue in opening remarks during a gubernatorial debate Thursday evening, saying the artwork should be "sent back to sender" and that taxpayer-funded institutions, such as KU, should not be used as a venue to "desecrate our flag." 

Responding to criticism from elected officials and political candidates, University of Kansas officials have taken down an altered American flag displayed on campus as part of a nationwide art project.

KU Chancellor Douglas Girod issued the order late Wednesday after Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer learned of the flag exhibit and demanded its removal.

“The disrespectful display of a desecrated American flag on the KU campus is absolutely unacceptable,” Colyer said in a news release earlier in the day. “I demand that it be taken down immediately.”