TALLADEGA COUNTY -- A story in Thursday’s Daily Home stated incorrectly that activist Gene Stilp of Pennsylvania had been given a permit to burn a combined Nazi/Confederate flag Sunday morning on public property near the Talladega Superspeedway.
In fact, according to Talladega County Sheriff Jimmy Kilgore, there is no permit required for an individual to exercise his/her First Amendment rights on public property.
“Whether you agree or disagree with what he’s doing, he has a constitutional right to do it,” Kilgore said. “I am not aware of any kind of permit I could issue to him for that.
“I designated a spot for him to safely conduct his demonstration without impeding auto or pedestrian traffic or interfering with ingress to the track. My office’s concern is with public safety, and we will be present to make sure he safely conducts his demonstration and goes on his way.”
Kilgore added that Stilp’s plans had resulted in some threats being made on Facebook and other social media platforms. “Hopefully, everyone will just ignore him,” Kilgore said.
Stilp said Wednesday that he will begin setting up around 9 a.m. Sunday, and that the demonstration should start around 10. The designated area is directly off Speedway Boulevard at the entrance leading to both the speedway and the Talladega Municipal Airport, and across the street from the entrance to the dirt track.
In addition to county deputies, Kilgore indicated that Alabama State Troopers will also be involved in the security effort for the demonstration.
According to a previous press release from Stilp, “The small demonstration consists of displaying a small, two-sided flag. One side of the flag is the Confederate flag commonly known as the Confederate Battle Flag, and on the other is a Nazi flag.
“The combination flag shows that the misguided values expressed by the Confederate flag are similar to the horrible values symbolized by the Nazi flag. Those horrible values include racism, hatred, bigotry, slavery, white supremacy and death … After a short explanation of what the combination Confederate/Nazi flag stands for, the flag is safely burned in a metal trash can, and the demonstration ends.
“The flames from the burning flag are safely contained in the trash can. It is a small, First Amendment demonstration to graphically express the similarity of what both flags stand for.”
Stilp has already conducted a similar demonstration at Dover International Speedway in Delaware and says he plans to take his message to other NASCAR tracks as well.