Activist burning Trump flags at courthouse taunted by counter-protesters

WILKES-BARRE — supporters taunted political activist Gene Stilp during a demonstration Thursday outside the Luzerne County Courthouse at which Stilp burned three flags he said are representative of the president.

Noting that Trump handily defeated Hillary Clinton in Luzerne County in the 2016 election, Stilp said the president announced on Thursday that he would like to delay the general election scheduled for Nov. 3.

“That’s a true mark of a dictator. So, it’s the appropriate time to come to Northeastern Pennsylvania, to the Luzerne County Courthouse, to make a statement about Trump,” Stilp, a 70-year-old Wilkes-Barre native who lives near Harrisburg, told a crowd of about 20 protesters and counter-protesters gathered near the south steps of the courthouse..

Stilp first displayed a Confederate flag with a Trump re-election slogan superimposed on it, followed by a flag with a Trump campaign slogan on one side and the former Soviet Union hammer-and-sickle flag on the other, and lastly a Trump campaign flag with a Nazi swastika superimposed in the center.

Stilp said the Confederate and swastika flags both represent racism, bigotry, hatred and white supremacy, among other things.

Watch video of the flag burning.

As for the Soviet flag combination, Stilp intimated that Trump failed to take action against Russian President after intelligence that Russian leadership put a bounty on American soldiers was leaked to the press earlier this month.

Stilp placed all three flags in a metal trashcan and set a small fire.

“This is the trashcan of history; this is where Trump’s going to end up,” he said.

After the flags were burned, or at least partly charred, a Trump supporter took the lid off the trash can and pulled out one of the flags. Stilp grabbed a section of the flag, which ripped apart as the two tried to pulled it away from each other. Another man tried to grab the section Stilp was holding.

“If you put your garbage on the street, I can take it,” said the first man, who declined to provide his name.

“This is not on the street,” someone from Stilp’s group replied. Shouting erupted between the two groups.

Stilp put the lid back on the can, sat on it and said, “You want it, come through me.”

No violence was observed at the event, but Stilp said he asked courthouse security to file charges against a man with media podcast credentials whom he said approached anti-Trump protesters before the demonstration “(with) no mask on, not 6 feet away, came into their faces and basically said he can do anything he wants.”

The man, who was wearing a media badge but declined to give his name, said he was with NEPA Investigates.

Stilp said he expected to be arrested at a 2 p.m. flag burning demonstration at the Lackawanna County Courthouse in Scranton because county officials there would not give him permission to burn flags on county property, citing liability issues.

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