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A Colorado middle-schooler who was kicked out of class for wearing a patch of the Gadsden flag on his backpack said that his school “tried to tread” on his rights during an interview with Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro.
Jaiden Rodriguez, a 12-year-old who was pulled from class at The Vanguard School in part for having the iconic flag on his backpack, told Shapiro that other kids at his school are allowed to display Pride-themed pins, but that he was punished for his Gadsden flag patch because a teacher thought that it was associated with slavery.
“They don’t know what they’re talking about at all. It’s a revolutionary flag. It has nothing to do with slavery,” Rodriguez told Shapiro on his podcast. “It was meant as a warning sign not to tread on our rights in the revolution. Which is funny because they tried to tread on my rights and then they found out they [could] not.”
The Gadsden flag, a yellow flag depicting a coiled rattlesnake with the words “Don’t Tread On Me,” was flown during the Revolutionary War. The flag was designed in 1775 by U.S. brigadier general Christopher Gadsden, who critics have pointed out was a slave owner.
Rodriguez said that he expected to win a race for student council in a “landslide” due to the controversy and that he was now “Mr. Popular” at his school.
On Monday, Vanguard School Director of Operations Jeff Yocum emailed Jaiden’s mother an explanation that cited several news articles about the flag.
Yocum cited a decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which said that while it is “clear that the Gadsden Flag originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context,” nevertheless, “it also has since been sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts.”
The school board of Vanguard announced a decision to allow Rodriguez to wear the Gadsden patch after a board meeting on Monday night.
“Last week, a student came to school with patches affixed to his backpack, with a half dozen patches depicting guns/weapons and one referencing alcohol,” the school told parents, adding that one of the patches was the Gadsden flag.
“From Vanguard’s founding we have proudly supported our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the ordered liberty that all Americans have enjoyed for almost 250 years,” an email from the school board reportedly said. “The Vanguard School recognizes the historical significance of the Gadsden flag and its place in history. This incident is an occasion for us to reaffirm our deep commitment to a classical education in support of these American principles.”
The school added that the district had informed school administrators that the flag was not allowed. According to a Tuesday statement from Harrison School District 2, another issue was several patches that referenced guns.
“The student returned to class without incident after removing the patches of semi-automatic weapons from the backpack. The Vanguard School and Harrison School District 2 worked in collaboration to resolve this matter,” the district said in a statement.
Rodriguez said that other kids were allowed to support “Pride,” but he wasn’t allowed to wear the historic Gadsden flag.
“There’s kids with pride pins and the teachers don’t say a thing. But I wear a Gadsden flag and it’s the end of the world. I see them in the hallways. It saddens me that they can do whatever they want, but I can’t wear a Gadsden flag,” he said.
When asked by Shapiro if he had any political ambitions, Rodriguez said that he would hope to run for governor of Colorado.