Sheriff willing to go to jail; calls ruling to remove flag display from courthouse ‘a slap in the face’

A Virginia sheriff is “disgusted” and “shocked” that he was ordered to remove an American flag display from the courthouse lobby because it could be seen as in favor of law enforcement and first responders.

Portsmouth Sheriff Bill Watson told local News Channel 3 WTKR that he’d received the display — an American flag constructed from fire hose as “a tribute to public safety.”

When Watson was told, “Not only do we not want it on the wall, we don’t want it in the courthouse,” he was shocked.

“I just can’t believe that they don’t want to display the American flag in a courthouse, I mean that’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” he told the station.

A judge, who didn’t wish to be identified, told WTKR that the display would set the wrong precedent. He claimed a courthouse lobby is the wrong place for a tribute.

The sheriff disagreed.

“They expect my deputies to put their life on the line for a judge,” he told News Channel 3. “If somebody was going to come into a courtroom with a gun, the deputy is supposed to stand in front of the judge and take a bullet, but yet they won’t let us have our flag, saluting public safety? To me, that’s a slap in the face.”

The sheriff was permitted, however, to mount the display in his office, which is on the ground floor of the courthouse building. The sheriff said he plans to place it in his window for all the world to see.

Watson told News Channel 3 he would rather be sent to jail than take it down.

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