RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Trip Lewis says he was just paying tribute to his Civil War ancestor on Saturday, in front of a historic chapel just outside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
But police say he broke the law when brought a Confederate flag on the property.
“The security guard asked me to get off, and I politely asked him to show me the law that says I can`t be in a public park with a flag… it sent my daughter in tailspin, and I felt totally bad my children being there and seeing this,” Lewis said.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts sits on what was once a camp for Confederate veterans.
You can still see the Robinson House that was built in the 1850’s, the Confederate Soldier’s home and the Confederate Memorial Chapel.
Lewis was cited for trespassing.
“The Virginia Code prohibits banners, flags, and other banners, and law enforcement officers were supporting that code,” said Suzanne Hall with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
The law also states you can’t display a flag for the purposes of bringing about a movement; in other words, a protest on the museum’s grounds.
“I do not in my heart think I was breaking any law. When the security guard approached me, he asked are you there to protest, and I said I wasn`t,” Lewis said.
Lewis admits he has protested in the past.
In 1993, an agreement was made between the Commonwealth, the VMFA, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization to allow them to lease the chapel. According to the VMFA, the Confederate battle flag began flying at the chapel after the Sons of Confederate Veterans became the lessee.
When the lease was renewed in June 2010, the board of trustees at the VMFA made the decision to ask that the flag be removed from the chapel.
That’s when Lewis and others protested that the flag be put back on the chapel.
Lewis is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 4.