VA Supreme Court could become involved in Danville Confederate flag controversy

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DANVILLE (WSLS10) - At the base of the empty flag pole outside the Sutherlin Mansion, a miniature replica of the third national flag of the Confederacy pays tribute to the larger version that, until last August, flew on the flag pole.

"This is clearly something that is designed to be treated as a monument or a memorial to the War Between the States," said Kevin Martingayle, is a lawyer in Virginia Beach.

He made an oral argument Tuesday in front of a three-judge panel at the Virginia Supreme Court, arguing that the Supreme Court should step in and decide once and for all whether the flag can or cannot be flown.

"We argue that the plain language [in the statute] clearly contemplates protecting older monuments as well as those that came into existence after the 1997-1998 amendments to the statute," Martingayle explained, referring to the state statute that protects monuments and memorials.

Martingayle made his argument on behalf of the Heritage Preservation Association, which is located in Danville and was the driving force behind getting the flag pole erected in 1995.

He said the lawyer who represented the preservation association when the issue was heard in trial court in 2015 contacted him and asked him to make the argument.

"I think it should stay down," said Harry Guy, a Danville resident.

He said seeing the flag fly makes him feel like the country is trying to hold on to slavery.

"We done got past that. We don't need to go back to those days," he emphasized.

He said if the Supreme Court decides in favor of the preservation association, he may leave the city and he doesn't think he'll be the only one either.

"I'd try to get out of this city," he said.

Martingayle said if the case is heard, the hearing would likely come towards the end of this year with a decision handed down early next year and he says the three judge panel will likely decide by the end of June whether or not the case will be heard.

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