The City Council in New Rochelle, New York, recently voted to remove a Gadsden flag from flying outside the United Veterans Memorial & Patriotic Association, because the flag was deemed offensive.
The bright yellow flag with it’s message of “Don’t Tread On Me”, was too closely related to the Tea Party for some council members. New Rochelle’s city manager initially received a complaint from a sitting member of the council about the flag, but decided the veterans group had the right to fly it regardless.
So the council set about squashing the First Amendment rights of the organization, voting to take the flag down, and then preventing the veterans from putting it back up on Wednesday by a 5-2 vote. All 5 votes came from Democrats.
A veterans organization in a New York town is fighting for its right to fly a patriotic flag after the city council refused to let the group display the flag, calling it a symbol of the Tea Party with right-wing connotations.
The United Veterans Memorial & Patriotic Association replaced a tattered American flag at the New Rochelle Armory, flying the Gadsden flag underneath it. The bright yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” flag has been used by the Navy and Marine Corps since 1775.
The council objected to the flag because they said Peter Parente, the president of the veterans group, is a member of the Tea Party and the group wants to use the flag to make a political point.
But Parente said at the council meeting no one in his organization is a Tea Party member.
This is a clear example of a group of people who haven’t bothered to analyze the history of the flag beyond a couple of years. The fact that they only associate this flag with “right-wing connotations” shows a complete lack of understanding of the back story involving this patriotic symbol.
City workers actually confiscated the flag from the Veterans group.
The United Veterans sent a color guard to the New Rochelle Armory to receive, fold and secure the Gadsden flag. Moments later, DPW workers approached the color guard members and stated that they were orders to confiscate the flag and return it to City Hall. The veteran holding the flag handed it to a DPW worker and took the flag to City Hall where it remains today.
Some people opposed to the council’s move tried in vain to educate the members:
After the vote, during the public discussion period of the City Council meeting veterans, their children and other supporters of the United Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Society of New Rochelle spoke passionately about those who died fighting under the Gadsden flag as early as 1775 during the early days of the American Revolution and in modern day wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Global War on Terror.
To no avail.
And wait, it gets even more absurd…
According to the site, Talk of the Sound, one council member compared the Gadsden flag to the rainbow flag flown by gay pride advocates.
Then there’s this:
Brian Sussman, a Democratic Party District Leader in New Rochelle, has compared the Gadsden Flag variously to the Nazi flag, a Mickey Mouse flag and graffiti.
Sussman held a voter registration drive for Barack Obama in 2008 at the New Rochelle Public Library, in which he tells readers at the Obama campaign’s website, Organizing For Action, that while registration within the building must be non-partisan, he hopes that weather will allow volunteers to register outdoors where “we can be partisan on the public sidewalks”.
He also likes to refer to the South as being “racist” and “hostile to Black voters and to Black politicians”.
Just so you know where he’s coming from.