Tenn. university student arrested over stolen ‘stars and stripes’ rainbow flag

MT Lambda display at MTSU.

MT Lambda display at MTSU.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Police say they have recovered a controversial rainbow-colored flag that was taken from a display at Middle Tennessee State University.

MTSU Police spokesman Sgt. Broede Stucky told The Daily News Journal that Jacob Lisemby is charged with theft in relation to the flag and has a court date set for Nov. 25. It was unclear whether he has an attorney.

MT Lambda display at MTSU.

MT Lambda display at MTSU.

MTSU’s website lists Lisemby as a student orientation assistant and vice president of Sigma Pi fraternity.

Joshua Rigsby, president of MT Lambda, an LGBT student group at MTSU, said the flag was returned Tuesday in good condition.

“I could not have been caught more off guard when the officers walked into the room and handed it to me,” Rigsby said. “I literally started laughing and crying at the same time and couldn’t believe I was actually looking at our flag.

“We never expected to see this flag again, let alone to get it back undamaged.”

The flag was taken Saturday from a display that MT Lambda put together to celebrate its 25th anniversary on the campus.

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Two days earlier, the school had received a complaint about the flag and a request to remove it. School officials refused, saying in a statement that such actions wouldn’t be legal.

“As we have done with other similar activities that are not university-sponsored, we consulted with legal counsel, including the Tennessee attorney general’s office, about the display created by an independent LGBT student group,” the statement read. “We were advised that the display in question is constitutionally protected speech and, therefore, we are legally prohibited from removing the flag that has created this controversy.”

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