A small business owner in Florida is being threatened with hefty fines if he does not remove the historical Gadsden flag from his shop. He sees the move as tyrannical and a violation of his 1st Amendment rights.
In recent history, the yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag has become a Tea Party favorite, but its history dates back to the earliest days of American independence, according to USA Flag Supply. In fact, it is considered to be one of the first American flags, pre-dating the Stars and Stripes. Keith Greenberg, veteran and the owner of Gear Barrel, a sporting goods store, proudly displays the Gadsden flag in front of his store that he opened in May.
The City of Ocala says that the flag may not be flown because it is a violation of the city ordinance that says that only the American flag and the Florida state flag may be flown. Greensberg’s position is that the Gadsden flag IS an American flag, the flying of which is Constitutionally protected in the 1st Amendment.
When Mr. Greensberg received the notice, he made a YouTube video to tell his story about Ocala’s threats. “This is a big deal,” he says. He sees it as a freedom issue.
“What’s so ironic to me, personally, is that this is the ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag, and they are treading all over me.”
He faces fines of $250 to $500 per day if he does not remove the flag, he told The Blaze, which would devastate his small business.
Though the Gadsden flag violates city ordinance, there are other businesses in the area that are flying flags from other nations, according to Greenberg, who sent photos to The Blaze of a Irish bar with an Irish flag flying out front as well as a used car dealership that is flying the Mexican flag. In that photo, the Mexican flag is flanked by two American flags, but the Mexican flag is centered, and flying higher than the two Stars and Stripes flags, which is a clear violation of the United States Flag Code.
The flag that is considered “sacred” to Mr. Greenberg has a deep history that has resonated with patriotic Americans for more than two centuries. It was hoisted by the Sons of Liberty as they fought the Revolutionary War. It has flown on Navy ships. Fighters of the War on Terrorism have fought under its banner.
The Ocala city officials notwithstanding, the Gadsden flag IS a true American flag, representing the spirit of independence and patriotism. According to FOX, Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center proclaimed,
“Many Americans fought and died for our independence under that flag…”
Recently, an 86-year-old Ohio woman was ordered to take down her Stars and Strips flag from her rental home by the rental company, according to The Inquisitr, while an ISIS flag was flown from a residence in New Jersey.
Clearly, flags send a message. But do American municipalities or landlords have the right to forbid an American flag, whether it be the Stars and Stripes or the Gadsden flag, from being flown by an American on American soil? Or is this a violation of the Bill of Rights that needs to be fought and won decisively? Let us know what you think.
[image via screen shot from YouTube]