Middleburg revises order, pays $ 10,000 to settle dispute with activist burning the Stilp flag
MIDDLEBURG – A borough in Snyder County has rewritten its fire ordinance in a settlement with a Township of Middle Paxton. activist who burns flags to protest President Trump, political corruption and racial injustice.
Middleburg also paid Gene Stilp $ 10,000 to settle the lawsuit he filed in the United States Intermediate District Court, claiming the burns order was unconstitutional because it violated his right to liberty. expression of the first amendment.
The district police had charged him after burning flags on July 9. This charge was withdrawn as part of the settlement.
“Very successful” is how Stilp Wednesday described the outcome of the case. “It’s good that they saw the light,” said Stilp, 70.
The major change to the borough fire ordinance is the addition of a section on public demonstrations to address the burning of flags.
It requires that anyone wishing to organize a public demonstration involving the burning of a flag or other objects must apply for a permit at least two days in advance. There is no charge for the permit.
If a permit is issued, a fire extinguisher must be present, no flag taller than four by six feet may be burned and fires must be in a container.
The settlement was reached through negotiations with Stilp’s lawyer, Borough Administrator Elizabeth Paige said. The insurance will cover the $ 10,000, she said.
Stilp had demanded changes to the burn order and $ 7,500 in damages plus $ 8,500 in attorneys’ fees and legal costs, she said, adding that the company’s insurance company arrondissement had recommended the regulation.
Stilp said he would only get $ 1,500 out of $ 10,000, with his lawyer doing the rest.
He also settled his case against Mifflinburg in Union County, but confidentiality provisions prevent him from talking about it.
District Judge Jeffrey A. Rowe recently fined Stilp $ 1 each for breaking fire orders in Lewisburg and the suburb of East Buffalo Twp. He appealed against the fines to the Common Pleas Court.
District judges do not have the power to rule on the constitutionality of orders, Rowe wrote.
Stilp, who has burned flags in two dozen communities, has several federal lawsuits pending and he said more will be filed against municipalities that accuse him of illegally burning flags.
He informs officials when and where his flag burned and proceeds after being informed that he would be breaking an order.
When asked if his protests would end when President-elect Joe Biden takes office, he replied that they would not if Trump announced his intention to run in 2024.
“If Trump announces, Gene Stilp will be back in the counties burning flags,” he said.