Danville group calling for removal of Confederate flags from private property in city

Local law professor says request is unrealistic

DANVILLE, Va. – More than a dozen Confederate flags are flying on private property in Danville.

Now, Rev. Avon Keen, a member of the Danville Ministerial Alliance and president of the Virginia Southern Christian Leadership Council, is asking the city to change that.

He says the flag is a symbol of hate.

"The city can regulate actions on private property, such as uncut grass, trash, and also symbols of hate," Keen told city council members at Tuesday night's council meeting.

Liberty University law professor Jeff Toumala says if the city wanted to try to regulate what flags can be flown on private property, any regulation put in place could not single out Confederate flags.

"It's got to be content neutral unless it can satisfy a very, very high standard of review that the courts refer to as strict scrutiny and that's virtually impossible to satisfy," Toumala said.

He says satisfying the strict scrutiny requirement is virtually impossible.

The city could put limits on the size of flags, but Toumala says its unlikely city council members would ever go beyond that.

"If they listen to their city attorney, I would think that they would not do that," Toumala said.

Bill Soyars Jr., who represents the pro-Confederate flag group Virginia Flaggers, also addressed council Tuesday night in response to Keen's request and the Ministerial Alliance's request to rename Stonewall Recreation Center.

Soyars says the city's decision could have dire consequences.

"Will we let the thugs and radicals and anarchists of Charlottesville come down to Danville in the next few weeks and wreak havoc on Danville, Virginia? I pray not, but I say be aware," Soyars said.

The city has not indicated if the requests will be considered.

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