New Rochelle War Veterans Protest City's Order to Take Down Gadsden Flag

War veterans in New Rochelle are protesting the city's order for the so-called Gadsden flag to be taken down from its post outside the armory.

A symbol of pride for the veterans, the flag features a rattlesnake and the words, "Don't tread on me."

"That flag is the first flag of the Continental Navy," said Peter Parente, president of the United Veterans Memorial. He helped hoist the flag up on March 21 during a ceremony to swap out the tattered American flag.

"Before the red, white and blue stripes of America, that was our American flag," he said. "That was the flag we fought under in the Revolutionary War to have the America we are today."

Not everyone agrees. Mayor Noam Bramson, a Democrat, says the flag taken on new meaning after being adopted by the tea party movement. This week, he met with council members who, in an informal vote, decided to take it down Thursday.

"There was a poll taken with council members, and the majority wanted it to come down," said Councilman Al Tarantino, a Republican. 

Tarantino and his sole Republican counterpart were the only two who supported keeping it up.

"It was adopted by the tea party group. But other flags are adopted by different groups. Does that mean all flags then should not be put up or below an American flag? I don't think so," he said. 

City Hall was closed Friday, and the mayor was not available for comment, though he has said the veterans never asked the city for permission to put the flag up in the first place. Bramson has called the flap over the flag a distraction.

The controversial flag could soon flap again. Council members are planning a public hearing and formal vote in April.

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