Confederate-Nazi flag burns to applause, jeers in Gettysburg

Written by Lillian Reed/The Hanover Evening Sun | Nov 18, 2017 12:01 PM

(Photo: Dan Rainville, The Evening Sun)

(Gettysburg) -- Activist Gene Stilp burned a combined Confederate-Nazi flag to both applause and jeers in Gettysburg Friday during a planned demonstration.

The Middle Paxton Township resident spoke for several minutes to a small crowd of counter protesters and supporters of his reasons for burning the double-sided flag, which he created himself.

The demonstration, he said, was an "educational effort" to bring attention to racism in Pennsylvania and teach people what he believes those flags represent. He named racism, bigotry, hatred and white supremacy.

Officers from Gettysburg police and Adams County sheriff's departments flanked the peaceful demonstration and counter protests, which lasted about 20 minutes. The borough does not have an open burn ordinance that prohibits the flag burning.

Several counter protesters carried Confederate flags and spoke out against connecting the rebel banner with a Nazi flag.

"It's people that are racist, not the flag," said Pete Seville of Greencastle. "Any flag can be flown in a racist way."

Another counter protester in attendance, Donald Gardner of Gettysburg, said he loves history but hates when it is "folded, spindled and mutilated."

"The Confederate flag and Nazi flag are not equivalent," Gardner said. "There's about 100 years difference and the Confederates were not in favor of genocide. No one defends Nazis, nor should they."

Still, Stilp said he was not deterred by dissent. The activist also burned several souvenirs bearing Confederate flags that he bought in a local gift shop.

"Gettysburg has a unique feature because it's a museum town," he said. "They've kept the history straight here. What I'm talking about is the non-historical uses, the commercial use of it."

Stilp started the effort, in which a two-sided flag is burned over a metal trash can for about 30 seconds, at the Columbia County Courthouse after the Bloomsburg Fair allowed vendors to sell Confederate flags. Stilp also demonstrated at NASCAR races around the country and will keep up the efforts at county courthouses in the state.

Stilp picked Friday to visit Gettysburg because of the date's proximity to Remembrance Day, the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address.

He plans to continue the flag burns with permission in the coming weeks at other courthouses around Pennsylvania. 

Reporter Dustin Levy contributed to this article.


This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The Hanover Evening Sun

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