York County reaches $30,000 settlement with activist without explanation
A Harrisburg activist and former congressional candidate has reached a $30,000 settlement agreement with York County, but county officials and the man himself are unable to explain why.
In a Wednesday, July 18, York County Commissioners meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved the settlement agreement between the county and Gene Stilp, a Harrisburg activist and former congressional candidate for the state's 10th District.
Free speech in York County: Stilp thrust himself into the local spotlight in February, when he burned a Nazi-Confederate flag outside the York County Judicial Center in York City.
The display didn't come without a fight, however. He originally wanted to put on the demonstration in November 2017 but delayed his plans after county solicitor Glenn Smith denied him a permit.
In his letter, Smith cited an ordinance requiring that "any person who desires to congregate, assemble or use county property" must make such request in a letter at least 60 days in advance of the desired time of use and include a check for $100.
After the matter was shot up to a federal court, the county and Stilp reached a settlement allowing Stilp to hold his flag-burning demonstration, and the county said it would change the ordinance.
He went on to hold the demonstration — as part of his fight against racism, he said — Feb. 28, burning a hybrid flag and a sign displaying President Donald Trump's name in a trash can.
Not the end of the matter: That was the end of it — until the county announced a $30,000 settlement with Stilp five months later without providing any details.
The settlement contains a confidentiality provision, said county spokesman Mark Walters, which says that neither party can speak about the matter to any degree.
Walters declined to comment further.
Smith reiterated the provision when asked about the reasoning for the settlement and monetary award, and he declined to comment.
After the meeting, The York Dispatch filed a Right-to-Know Law request for any documentation related to the settlement and any correspondence between Stilp or his representative and the county.
This story will be updated when a response is received to the request.