SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – A large Confederate flag flying alongside I-85 in Spartanburg County is getting a lot of attention.

7NEWS did some checking and found out the Confederate flag is owned by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

While flying the Confederate flag is not illegal, Spartanburg County leaders said the flagpole violates the 1999 Land Use Ordinance, since there’s no home or business on the property.

Greenville Attorney John Reckenbeil said the first amendment right to freedom of speech includes symbols, like flags.

However, he said there are exceptions where it could be prohibited.

“You have homeowner’s associations that have the ability to disallow certain things to be put on your lawn. You have cities and counties that have those certain regulations and ordinances,” said Reckenbeil.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans were cited and have 20 days to either remove the flagpole or obtain a permit and lower it to 30 feet.

In response to the citation, the Sons of Confederate Veterans released the following statement:

In Petersburg, Virginia, the July 30th, 1864 pre-dawn stillness was shattered by a massive explosion opening the Union attack upon Confederate defenses. The Battle of the Crater ensued, and by the end of the day Spartanburg County lost more men in a single day of war than she had ever before. That explosion was underneath the 18th and 22nd South Carolina Regiments. These units, mostly from the Upstate of South Carolina, experienced immediate and devastating losses. At the end of the day, only 1 man answered roll call from 18th S.C. Infantry Company A, only 2 from 22nd S.C. Infantry Company B, and only 3 from 22nd S.C. Company C.

The Adam Washington Ballenger Camp 68 of the Sons Of Confederate Veterans recently erected a large flag pole on its property along I-85 for the purpose of remembering and honoring those soldiers who answered the call of South Carolina during the War Between the States and never returned. More than 250 of them were killed instantly in this one Union offense.

These soldiers, killed-in-action or missing-in-action, gave their all to their beloved State. We remember and honor them by flying a variety of historical flags under which they fought. This includes the flag of the State of South Carolina that flew on the pole for the past months. Camp 68 is currently flying the Confederate Naval Jack and will continue to alternate the flags that it flies. The Camp looks forward to providing an array of historical flags and hopes that their presence spurs further interest of our citizens in the rich history of Spartanburg County and South Carolina.”

The West Spartanburg NAACP President Rev. Eddie Parker said the confederate flag represents “hate, racism, exclusion, oppression, and violence.” He released a statement in response to the flag along I-85.

The Confederate flag has consistently been recognized as a deeply offensive symbol of opposition to civil rights legislation, integration, justice, education, and access to equal opportunity. For many groups, especially African Americans, the Confederate flag symbolizes hate, racism, exclusion, oppression, and violence. Its symbolism and history are directly linked to millions of African Americans’ enslavement, torture, and death.

The Confederate flag symbolizes white supremacists, as evidenced by the very words of those who birthed it: during the Cornerstone Speech.

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, and its cornerstone rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man, that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

Sadly, this flag will fly in our county until good people speak up.”