KU police investigating phone threat to museum amid flag art controversy

photo by: Kim Callahan

A KU worker on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, removes the art flag that was flying in front of Spooner Hall on KU's campus. The art piece, called "Untitled (Flag 2)," is by German artist Josephine Meckseper.

University of Kansas police are investigating a reportedly criminal call made to the Spencer Museum of Art amid public outcry over an artwork based on the American flag, police confirmed.

The call was made to a female museum employee about 1:15 Wednesday and was reported to police right afterward, KU police Deputy Chief James Anguiano said.

While KU police categorize this type of report as a threat, in this instance “it was more harassing than threatening,” Anguiano said.

Anguiano said he could not confirm whether the nature of the call was related to the flag art display, or details about what was said, as the incident remains under investigation by police.

However, the crime was reported in the hours after a Journal-World story about the flag art published online Wednesday began attracting attention — including that of Gov. Jeff Colyer and others who called it flag desecration and demanded its removal from a pole in front of Spooner Hall on Jayhawk Boulevard. Later that day, Chancellor Douglas Girod directed that the flag be removed, and it was eventually put on display inside the art museum.

Girod said the yearlong series of flag art that the work was part of was envisioned “to foster difficult dialogue” but that over the course of the day the display had “generated public safety concerns for our campus community.”

Anguiano said KU police did not take any other reports of crimes that afternoon on campus.

When asked about other possible public safety concerns related to the display, including whether extra police presence was requested on campus, he directed those questions to KU’s office of public affairs, which has not elaborated further so far this week.

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd


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