MIDDLEBURY, Vt. (CBS Connecticut/AP) — Middlebury College says a disciplinary investigation is underway after American flags set up by some students to commemorate the lives lost in the Sept. 11 attacks were removed and desecrated.

College President Ron Liebowitz says a group of students had set up nearly 3,000 flags Wednesday but that a handful of people, some of them from the campus community, removed some of the flags and put them in garbage bags.

He says destruction of property and interfering with the rights of others to express themselves violates the standards of the college’s community.

Some of the activists say they were protecting Abenaki lands from desecration and addressing U.S. imperialism and genocide by removing the flags.

“I was thinking to myself, ‘why are people cleaning them up now and why are they doing it in such a hurried and haphazard manner?’ I went up and asked them what they were doing. They said, ‘This is an Indian burial ground and you can’t have anything penetrating the earth,’” student Sasha Schell told The Middlebury Campus.

Ben Kinney, president of the College Republicans who spent two hours putting up the 2,977 flags, said he was told by a protester they were “confiscating” the flags due to “America’s imperialism.”

“I got there just as they were taking the very last of them out of the ground and putting them in piles,” Kinney told The Middlebury Campus. “At first, I [thought] the group was comprised of College Democrats helping put the flags away before the rain rolled in, but then I realized what they were doing.”

A college spokeswoman would not say who in the college community was involved.

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