Arizona Homeowner Assoc. Classifies Gadsen Flag as “Debris” 1st Amendment Tested in Display Dispute

Homeowner’s Fight Involves Flag Tied to Tea Party

By Marc Lacey|NewYorkTimes

LAVEEN, Ariz. — Don’t tread on Andy C. McDonel.

Andy C. McDonel, who was told to remove the Gadsden flag from his roof in Arizona, says the flag is not a political statement. (Joshua Lott for The New York Times)

This year, Mr. McDonel began flying a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag on his roof in this unincorporated area just outside Phoenix. The historic banner — which dates to 1775, when it was hoisted aboard ships during the initial days of the Revolutionary War — has been adopted by the Tea Party movement. But Mr. McDonel said that he had unfurled the flag for its historical significance and nothing else.

He notes that the banner, the Gadsden flag, has been widely used over the years and was even featured on the cover of a rock album. “Am I a Metallica fan because I’m using the flag?” he asked.

This month, he received a letter from the homeowners’ association ordering him to remove “the debris” from his roof. It threatened fines if the debris (i.e., the flag) did not go within 10 days. But Mr. McDonel, 32, a logistics operation manager, has vowed to fight the order.

“It’s a patriotic gesture,” he said of his banner. “It’s a historic military flag. It represents the founding fathers. It shows this nation was born out of an idea.”

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