Veterans sue N.Y. city over ban on flag
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A veterans group has filed a free-speech lawsuit against officials who banned a “Don't Tread on Me” flag from a city-owned armory because of the flag's recent association with the Tea Party.
The lawsuit says New Rochelle's action, in addition to being unconstitutional, was “unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious,” and betrayed a lack of appreciation of history.
The city council had ordered the flag down in March, citing complaints that the yellow banner with a coiled rattlesnake was making a political statement. The flag has been used as an unofficial symbol of the Tea Party since at least 2008 and is often flown at party rallies, tax protests and gun rights rallies.
But the lawsuit, filed last week in federal court by the United Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Association, offers a long history of the flag, which has been used by the military since 1776. And it says none of the veterans who raised the flag in March are Tea Party members.
It says that “contrary to defendants' unfounded, subjective (and incorrect) belief,” hoisting the Gadsden flag was not meant to support the Tea Party. It was meant “to honor the veterans who have served and died for our country under the rattlesnake image and the words ‘Don't Tread on Me' since the American Revolution,” the lawsuit says.
City officials did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment. The city manager said in April it is up to the city to determine which flags fly on city-owned property.
The lawsuit names the mayor, city manager and four City Council members. It requests an injunction and “nominal and compensatory damages.”
Peter Parente, president of the veterans group, referred calls to attorney William Baaki of the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative legal defense group in Ann Arbor, Mich. Baaki did not immediately return a call.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.