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Confederate flag debate brought up at Danville City Council meeting

The debate over Confederate flags was brought up at Danville's city council meeting Tuesday.

DANVILLE, Va. (WSET) - Can a city or town ban the Confederate flag? You can find Confederate flags around the City of Danville. Some in Danville are calling for the removal of the flag on private property.

The stormy debate reached Danville city council Tuesday night.

Reverend William Avon Keen went before council to make citizens aware that the city can regulate some actions on private property, so why not a flag? "The same way the city regulates you not having bushes rolling over into the street or having trash on your property."

However, Danville resident Bill Soyars says it's his constitutional right. "We'll find out here real soon how strong the Constitution of the United States is." He says the flag is here to stay, because it stands for history. "That history includes black history, white history, all history, the founding of this nation."

"To make those heritage arguments is a disguise for racism," says Keen. Keen adds a different red, white, and blue flag represents who we are today. The Confederate flag, he says, should be left in the history books and museums. "The United States flag represents liberty and justice for all." Soyars agrees with Keen's statement on the American flag and adds that it too is a symbol of patriotism and history, just like the Confederate flag.

"It's a symbol of what the war was about, symbol of patriotism, and the belief of the southern people," Soyars says about the Confederate flag.

We wanted to find out if a locality could legally do anything to regulate the Confederate flag? The mayor, John Gilstrap, tells ABC 13 it would be difficult since it's on private property. "The flag may be a nuisance to some, but it's not really a hazard."

He thinks this is an issue that goes beyond city council. "I do not think that they are going to change the constitution as it relates to one's liberties."

We reached out to the Danville city attorney's office as well as the Virginia attorney general's office to see if a locality could enforce something like this. We're still waiting to hear back.

Both sides agree that if you have an opinion on this topic, you should speak up.

Bill Soyars sent us the following full statement on his beliefs on what is happening and what should be done, "Let me right up front say the people of Danville need to contact city council and let them hear your voice on this matter of Danville history. This thing that is going on across our nation is a well organized plan to dismantle the nation and its founding. A shadow of un-elected, left wing activists are at work. The new world order is raising its ugly head. People had better pray as never before. The Antichrist spirit is on the move. This nation is a people of a fallen nature and our history shows us our flaws. We are to learn from our mistakes and great sins and that includes all races and people. Will we go the broad road that leads to destruction or will we take the narrow road that leads to peace and everlasting life?"

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