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Lawrence Fire Department helps install new Israeli flag at Jewish KU fraternity after vandalism

Alpha Epsilon Pi
Posted at 5:00 PM, Nov 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-08 18:00:03-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new Israeli flag is flying at a Jewish University of Kansas fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, after one was vandalized this weekend, and the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical (LDCFM) was there to help install it.

"As a values-focused organization, LDCFM is committed to serving our community," said Fire Chief Richard Llewellyn. "Though different than our typical response, this morning's event is in alignment with our mission of service."

Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel, who has been a part of the Lawrence community for 18 years, pictured with LDCFM officials after an Israeli flag was reinstated at a Jewish KU fraternity following vandalism of another Israeli flag at the fraternity on Nov. 5.

Alpha Epsilon Pi's original Israeli flag was cut off the flag pole outside the fraternity's off-campus house and torn up on Sunday, Nov. 5.

It was later found on the ground a block away from the fraternity, which is close to campus, according to a joint statement from KU's chancellor, Douglas A. Girod, and provost, Barbara A. Bichelmeyer.

An American flag that was also flying on the pole was found on the ground near the flagpole, still attached to the rope, according to the Lawrence, Kansas, Police Department (LKPD).

A joint statement from LDCFM to KSHB 41 News reads:

Lawrence Douglas County Fire and Medical (LDCFM) was requested for a task that is atypical for the agency earlier this morning at the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity at the University of Kansas. There was a report of damage to an Israeli flag and components of the flagpole. During the police investigation, they discussed how to repair and rehang the flag. LKPD Police Chief Rich Lockhart reached out to Fire Chief Rich Llewellyn and a plan to assist was made. Quint 3, an aerial suppression apparatus was requested, and the repairs to the flagpole were made along with rehanging the flag. Although an atypical call for assistance, LDCFM was happy to assist and prevent any possible injury that could have occurred while trying to make the repairs themselves.

KSHB 41's Abby Dodge spoke with an Alpha Epsilon Pi member, Spencer Gibbs, who called the vandalism act "disheartening."

In a post on Instagram shared on Monday, the fraternity said it was "shaken to its core" after the "heinous act of hate."

"We are immensely proud of the collaborative efforts demonstrated by the Lawrence Douglas County Fire and Medical officers, alongside the Lawrence, KS Police Department, in assisting the AEPi Fraternity members to reinstate the Israeli flag on their flagpole," the City of Lawrence said in a statement to KSHB 41 News.

Investigators with LKPD are looking into the vandalism act.

"LKPD is concerned enough about the nature of the crime to forward the report from the Patrol Unit to our Investigations Division," the department said in a Facebook post on Monday. "A detective visited the house today and we’re working to secure additional evidence."