Don't Tread On Me, Except In Connecticut

The last two times I passed through Washington, D.C.'s Union Station, my eyes were drawn to a flag dealer's display. "Don't Treat On Me," many of the flags say. In my mind's eye, I see the flag flying proudly in front of my home, or draped, dorm-like, from a wall somewhere in my office. I love the flag, and the sentiment it expresses.

So, too, do tea party activists. They planned to hoist the flag above the state capitol in Hartford, Connecticut, at a protest event. They even got approval from the state police to wave the protestor's flag.

But then the police changed its mind. Acting State Capitol Police Chief Walter Lee reports: “At this point the request was denied due to the fact the intent to fly the flag had changed.”

“It was apparent it was much more a flag raising with a political event to follow. At that point we denied the request,” Lee said.

Huh? Does the chief think this was the opening salvo of a political coup? Incipient treason? Some portent of violence?

The flag, known as the Gadsden Flag, has a long and venerable history. A coiled serpent warned tyrants even before the revolt against Britain: "Don't Tread On Me."

Shame on the Capitol Police in Hartford. Symbols are part and parcel of political speech. A group that wants to shake its fist in the very face of a government it believes to be losing touch with the people it represents should be free to fly the flag. But in this case, new tyrants say no.

I wish I had bought that flag on my last visit to Washington. I'd hoist it today, so that it would be unfurled in at least one location in the State of Connecticut.

About Norm Pattis

Norm Pattis is a Connecticut based trial lawyer focused on high stakes criminal cases and civil right violations. He is a veteran of more than 100 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled.

Personal Website


Law Firm Website


I believe that the state is a necessary fiction and that failing to combat it is the first step toward tyranny.
– Norm Pattis


Nothing in this blog should be considered legal advice about your case. You need a lawyer who understands the context of your life and situation. What are offered here are merely suggested lines of inquiry you may explore with your lawyer.

Pattis Video