LEESBURG, Va. - A man is one step closer to burning a combined Confederate and Nazi flag on courthouse grounds in Loudoun County after receiving conditional approval from the county to hold the flag burning.
Gene Stilp submitted the application for the flag burning event last week, which is scheduled to be held at noon on June 12.
“The rules for use of the Loudoun County Courthouse Grounds for public gatherings are meant to provide equal access, to protect sensitive areas, and to respect the nature of the courthouse and its grounds,” the county said in a statement. “The application was reviewed by the County Administrator and County Attorney, and Mr. Stilp’s application was approved, with conditions.”
“The reason we are doing this is because these two symbols have in the past represented the misguided value systems,” Stilp said.
Stilp splits his time between Northern Virginia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He is describing this upcoming flag torching as an educational event.
“Asking people there if there is racism, bigotry, hatred, racial intimidation in Loudoun County,” he said.
“My problem with the county is had they been more vocal in opposing the KKK fliers and other activities that are going on in our county, then they probably wouldn’t be in this situation,” said Loudoun County NAACP President Phillip Thompson. “But because they have dragged their feet or made weak statements, then people are interpreting that as they are not going to stand up to the KKK or the KKK is interpreting that as come to our town and do what you want to do.”
Thompson fears Stilp’s flag burning plan 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.”
“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.
Law enforcement is developing plans for monitoring and responding to any possible outcomes that may stem out of this event.
Stilp’s approval to burn the Confederate-Nazi flag is contingent on his willingness to hold the event in an area recommended by the county’s fire marshal among other requirements.