Stafford County Attorney says county cannot remove Confederate flag from private property

It is a battle that has gone on for years and is centered on a Confederate flag that flies high above Interstate 95 in Stafford County. Now, it is coming to a head once again.

The enormous flag that is hanging 80 feet high on a private property nearby the Falmouth exit of the highway has flown here since 2014. It is not the first time people have tried to get it to come down. But each time, those efforts have failed as the flag is protected by free speech.

At a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, Stafford County Attorney Charles Shumate shared his sympathies for those offended by the flag, but said his hands are tied.

"I have recently had occasion to give this board advice once again about their legal standing - vis-à-vis - the flag and the flag pole and the consequences of what they can and cannot do," Shumate said at the meeting. "I have concluded without equivocation, both back in 2014 and now, that this county has no legal authority to require the removal of that Confederate flag from that private property on that flag pole, which is 80 feet in height."

One attendee at the meeting shouted out "coward" at the county attorney right as he finished his remarks.

Many others delivered passionate comments at the hearing, but just as freedom of speech protects those comments, it also protects the right to fly the Confederate symbol on private property.

A Confederate flag is reportedly flying on the private property of Hubert Wayne Cash by the group called the Virginia Flaggers. The group flies flags like this one along highways across Virginia and reportedly has no plans to stop.