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It’s become a symbol of liberty, primarily in the libertarian political movement, in recent years and was previously and American Revolution battle flag. However, one federal agency is now saying that the Gadsden flag might be a type of racial harassment.

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The Daily Caller is reporting that a complaint filed by an African American federal worker in 2014 over a coworker’s Gadsden flag hat spurred the investigation. Currently the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has decided that it will need to gather more evidence in the case. This means the EEOC is taking the situation seriously.

According to the Daily Caller’s report:

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And though the complainant made no claim that his coworker made any racist remarks while wearing the hat, he said that the Gadsden flag — the iconic yellow banner, which shows a coiled rattlesnake above the words “Don’t Tread on Me” — is a “historical indicator of white resentment against blacks stemming largely from the Tea Party.”

“In light of the ambiguity in the current meaning of this symbol, we find that Complainant’s claim must be investigated to determine the specific context in which [the coworker] displayed the symbol in the workplace,” the preliminary ruling reads.

“It is clear that the Gadsden Flag originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context,” it continues. “Moreover, it is clear that the flag and its slogan have been used to express various non-racial sentiments, such as when it is used in the modern Tea Party political movement, guns rights activism, patriotic displays, and by the military.”

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“However,” the EEOC added, “whatever the historic origins and meaning of the symbol, it also has since been sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts.”

So we’ve basically got a federal agency saying that the Gadsden flag, when worn on clothing very well could be an actionable form of racial harassment among federal employees.

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According to Wikipedia:

The Gadsden flag is a historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike. Positioned below the rattlesnake are the words “DONT [sic] TREAD ON ME”. The flag is named after American general and statesman Christopher Gadsden (1724–1805), who designed it in 1775 during the American Revolution. It was used by the Continental Marines as an early motto flag, along with the Moultrie Flag.

Contemporary uses of the Gadsden flag include political movements such as right-wing libertarianism and the American Tea Party, and American soccer supporter groups including Sam’s Army and The American Outlaws since the late 1980s.