Activist Plans To Burn Confederate, Nazi Flag Outside Luzerne County Courthouse

November 7, 2017 GMT

WILKES-BARRE — Activist Gene Stilp plans to burn a combined Nazi and Confederate flag at the Luzerne County Courthouse next week.

Stilp on Monday said he will burn the combined flag outside the courthouse at noon on Nov. 16 “to make a point about the flags and the values they stand for.”

“The Confederate flag being one of the symbols of racism, we combined it with the Nazi flag, confined to the trash bin of history,” Stilp said.

Stilp drew widespread media attention when he burned a similar flag outside the Columbia County Courthouse in September, to protest the sale of Confederate flags at the Bloomsburg Fair.

Stilp, a Wilkes-Barre native who lives near Harrisburg, said he will burn the flag safely, inside a metal trash can, and will not impede public access to or from the courthouse.

Luzerne County Sheriff’s deputies will monitor the flag-burning to ensure public safety, according to a letter county Manager David Pedri sent Stilp last week.

Pedri in his letter urged Stilp to contact city officials before going through with his plan.

Stilp on Monday said he plans to contact the city fire department soon.

Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jay Delaney said Monday afternoon his department had not received a request from Stilp, and that he would reserve judgment until he saw the specifics of Stilp’s plan.

“I would like to hear from him to see what his intentions are,” Delaney said. “I need a request to look at what he is going to do.”

The city has an open burning ordinance, which explicitly states what forms of burning are permitted, Delaney said. Open burning in strictly controlled forms, such as bonfires at pep rallies, is allowed, the chief said. At such events, firefighters stand by in case the fires get out of control, he said.

Stilp said he has received threats from white supremacist groups and supporters of the Confederate flag as a historical symbol.

“The heritage of the Confederate flag is hate,” Stilp said. “It’s about time for people to think about it.”

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