Leesburg, VA – Free speech activist Gene Stilp of Pennsylvania is on a mission: Burn flags at American courthouses to gain attention for his racial activism.
The flag is a personal creation of Stilp. It appears to be a confederate flag on one side, and a Nazi flag on the other side.
Now Stilp plans to burn his flag at the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg, VA, a town that was occupied by Confederate General Robert E. Lee for a period during the American Civil War in 1862.
Loudoun County NAACP President Phillip Thompson disagrees with Stilp’s idea of racial activism and fears the flag burning stunt could incite violence reminiscent of the deadly Charlottesville rally last year.
“We don’t think that anything that involves that type of violence or that type of demonstration will be productive at all,” he said. “My concern is that people will come with weapons and anything can happen at that point.”
Law enforcement is developing plans for monitoring and responding to any possible outcomes that may stem out of this publicity stunt.
“I have not been contacted by the NAACP, but we have conducted this kind of demonstration in the past at many courthouses in Pennsylvania and also at some national events – for instance, the Nascar events in places like Talladega, Alabama, Dover, Delaware and also in Martinsville, Virginia,” said Stilp.
Stilp has burnt the flag at various east coast U.S. county courthouse’s and Nascar events. He has previously faced opposition to his flag burning ritual, particularly in York County, PA where his initial request was denied by county commissioners who threatened him with arrest should he attempt the publicity stunt. After winning a Free Speech 1st Amendment suit in Federal Court, Stilp was eventually granted permission by York County to burn the flag.
Video Excerpts from Stilp’s previous stunts:
Stilp was outraged by the confederate memorabilia that is being sold in the battlefield shops of Gettysburg. His flag burning ceremony was meet by activists and protesters at the Adams County Courthouse in Gettysburg, PA.
Stilp’s request to stunt in York County was initially rejected because he failed to seek permission 60 days in advance and did not provide the $100 fee with his application. Those are two basic requirements to get authorization for any type of demonstration on county property.
Flag burning – Dauphin County Courthouse
Flag burning – Union County Courthouse