EAST LANSING, Mich. — The City of East Lansing has partnered with the Parents of Sister Survivors Engage (POSSE) organization to install teal prayer flags along Grand River Avenue in support of sexual assault survivors.
POSSE has been working since fall 2018 to create a prayer flag in the Tibetan tradition for each of the 505 known survivors of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. Nassar was an osteopathic physician at MSU for decades and was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison in 2018 on child pornography charges as well as two consecutive terms (an effective life sentence) in Ingham and Eaton counties on criminal sexual conduct charges.
Each of the flags set to be hung along Grand River Avenue is signed by numerous individuals from the MSU student body with words of support and encouragement for the survivors. At least 4,000 students have written messages of support.
“In making these flags, our goal was to hang them near campus for all to see and, as prayer flags, spread their messages of goodwill on the wind throughout the community,” said Valerie von Frank, founder and chair of POSSE and a mother of one of the survivors. “The flags will then be given to the individual survivors.”
East Lansing Department of Public Works staff will begin the first installation of 326 flags along Grand River Avenue today, April 2. The flags will be installed in batches, with some going up this week and some going up next week. The date, time and location of a dedication ceremony will be announced soon.
“We are honored to be able to provide a public space for these flags, which will be prominently displayed throughout the month of April as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” said East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows. “We stand with the survivors and are pleased to be a part of this meaningful project.”
“We are so pleased that the mayor offered the City’s support and encouragement in calling attention to the survivors, and more to the issue of sexual assault in general,” said von Frank. “It really has to be an ongoing, public conversation if we are going to change rape culture.”
Campus organizations helped in the hundreds of hours it took to get the teal prayer flags signed, including Reclaim MSU, the College of Arts & Letters student council, the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities student council, the MSU College Democrats, the Women’s Health Alliance, MSU Women’s Council and the Bailey Scholars Program. In addition, Country Stiches – an East Lansing business – offered support and area quilters and sewers donated their skills, including, but not limited to: Glenna Segall, Linda Karek and Teresa Zuker. It’s Yours Signs in Mason donated supplies.