The Gadsden flag has been a part of American history since the Revolution, but the city council of New Rochelle, N.Y., voted 5-2 to remove it from the New Rochelle Armory, claiming that it represents the Tea Party, the Washington Examiner reported Friday.
The flag displays a coiled snake on a yellow background with the phrase “Don’t tread on me,” and has been used by the Navy and Marine Corps since 1775.
It is also a favorite for many in the Tea Party, which one council member called “offensive.”
According to the Examiner, the United Veterans Memorial & Patriotic Association replaced a “tattered American flag” at the armory, placing the Gadsden flag beneath it.
But Jared Rice, a member of the council, objected to the city manager. The manager let the flag remain, but Democrats on the council overrode him on Wednesday.
Council members claimed that Peter Parente, president of the veterans group, is a Tea Party member trying to make a political statement.
Parente, however, said that while he is a “proud Republican,” no one in the group, including him, belongs to the Tea Party.
A post at Talk of the Sound said that Brian Sussman, a Democratic Party district leader in New Rochelle, compared the historic flag to the Nazi flag, a Mickey Mouse flag and graffiti.
Shari Rackman, another member of the council, compared it to the rainbow “gay pride” flag.
All five Democrats on the council voted to remove the flag, Talk of the Sound said.
The veterans group retained the Thomas More Law Center to help regain rights to fly the flag, but a lawsuit has not been yet been filed, the Examiner said.
“Using the City Council’s reasoning, they would remove the Stars and Stripes from flagpoles because both Democrat and Republican Parties, as well as most political candidates, use the Stars and Stripes in their campaign messaging,” Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center said.
The veterans group routinely maintains the flag and the pole, Talk of the Sound said, adding that this is the first time the council has interfered with their duties.
The flag was taken down by an honor guard and confiscated by the city.
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