Confiscation of 'Don't Tread on Me' flag prompts Thomas More Law Center lawsuit

The Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor filed a federal lawsuit last week against the City of New Rochelle, NY, its mayor and five members of the city council for confiscating the "Don't Tread on Me" Flag (known as the Gadsden Flag) from a flagpole at the local armory.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the United Veterans Memorial & Patriotic Association of New Rochelle (UVMPA-NR) and its president, Peter Parente, a Marine Corps veteran.

The Gadsden Flag is an historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a snake coiled, ready to strike. Positioned below the snake are the words "Don't Tread on Me."

In 1775, the flag was designed by and is named for Revolutionary general and statesman Christopher Gadsden. The Gadsden Flag is considered the first flag of the Continental Navy.

On March 21, at an official ceremony, the Veterans unfurled a new American flag to replace a tattered one, damaged in Hurricane Sandy. Beneath the American flag the Veterans raised the Gadsden Flag. Within a week, City Manager Chuck Strome ordered Peter Parente to remove the Gadsden Flag because it was a Tea Party symbol. Strome changed his mind after Parente provided him with information describing the historical significance of the flag.

However, less than three hours later, Parente was informed that the New Rochelle City Council ordered removal of the flag.

It was later discovered that the council's meeting violated New York's open meeting laws and neither the public nor the two Republican council members were notified.

The purpose of the lawsuit is obtain a court ruling that declares the New Rochelle City Council's actions violated UVMPA-NR's constitutional and statutory rights. Additionally, it seeks to return the flag to the veterans and allow them to fly the Gadsden Flag over the armory.

Published: Thu, Aug 8, 2013

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