East Lansing celebrates sister survivors

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“Every time I see the teal flags around campus, it’s almost like a hug,” said Sister Survivor Katie Black.

The city of East Lansing, with help from the Sister Survivors Engage, hosted an emotional ceremony at the Ann Street  Plaza to celebrate the raising of 505 teal Tibetan prayer flags to represent the known survivors of Larry Nassar.

Ryan Collins

Mothers of sister survivors take in East Lansing's teal flag installation ceremony.

“It’s important to continue to the community conversation about sexual assault, in order to change the culture,” said East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows.

Valerie von Frank, a parent of Sister Survivors Engage, came to the City of East Lansing with the idea and the city had to be a part of it, said Meadows. Von Frank the mastermind of the prayer flags, was able to reach out to the MSU community to help generate the flags that line Grand River and Albert Avenue.  

“I asked Valerie what the fraternity and sorority community could do to help,” said Guillermo Flores, assistant director for MSU Fraternity and Sorority Life. “Valerie took me up on that challenge.”

Flores said the MSU fraternity and sorority community were able to produce 150 prayer flags in 24 hours to help von Frank’s mission.

“These flags are meant to begin to bridge the divides, to bring together our community and fight for justice for all survivors,” said von Frank. “In Tibet, these types of flags are hung outdoors for a year and the prayers written on them are carried on in the wind spreading the goodwill throughout the community.”

That goodwill has already been felt by sister survivors Katie Black and Larissa Boyce, who were emotional from the support of the East Lansing community.

“The flags represent all of our voices as survivors,” said Boyce. “It’s emerging into one large army that’s making a difference around the country. “

To conclude the ceremony, the flags were blessed by Betsy Aho, associate pastor at the Peoples Church of East Lansing.

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