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City in New York: No 'Don't Tread on Me' flag on public land

| Friday, April 26, 2013, 8:21 p.m.

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — A “Don't Tread on Me” flag hoisted by veterans outside a city-owned armory has been ordered down because of complaints that the defiant symbol of the American Revolution is now associated with the Tea Party and makes an unwelcome political statement.

Veterans in New Rochelle, just north of New York City, are threatening to sue, and a prominent conservative law firm has taken up the case. Some residents are upset with city officials, and a small town 60 miles away has raised the flag — with its coiled snake and yellow field — in solidarity.

“They shouldn't be able to tell us what flag we can fly,” said Peter Parente, president of New Rochelle's United Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Association.

But City Manager Charles Strome said: “They can fly whatever flag they want at the VFW post, at their own homes, but anything displayed on public property has to be determined by the municipality. .”

The veterans group had permission to take down a tattered American flag at the vacant New Rochelle Armory and replace it with a new one.

Parente said someone brought the “Don't Tread on Me” flag, also known as the Gadsden flag, to a sunset ceremony and the veterans decided to fly it.

Several flags bearing a rattlesnake and the slogan were used during the Revolution, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command website. The rattlesnake was a common symbol for the United States and its resistance to tyranny, and the first commander in chief of the Continental Navy used the Gadsden flag in 1776, it says.

Since at least 2008, the flag has been used as an unofficial symbol of the Tea Party, the loosely defined populist movement that supports reduced government spending, lower taxes and lowering the national debt.

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