CHICAGO, November 17, 2011—A waitress in northwest suburban
“That evening on October 6, I had a couple come in. By the end of the dinner, she [one of the customers] kinda grabbed my bracelet and that’s when she started getting angry,” explains Geller. “She asked me, ‘What does it say?’ and I said it says November 6, 2012. And she said ‘Oh, that’s the date we go vote next.’”
However, representatives for Outback Steakhouse dispute Geller’s account. They contend she was fired for being inattentive to two tables and the “Don’t Tread on Me” bracelet was not the problem.
The company’s explanation has not been sufficient to quell free-speech protests from conservatives and Tea Party supporters alike. Over the weekend, protesters organized outside the restaurant waving American flags and, of course, “Don’t Tread on Me” banners.
“She [Geller] was wearing it in support of her brother who is a Marine, my husband who is a 24-year retired USAF fighter pilot, and because it was given to us by a veteran,” explains Geller’s mom, Tonya Franklin. “We never called it a Tea Party bracelet.”
But the “Don’t Tread on Me” slogan still rattles those on the Democrat or liberal side of the political spectrum. It is the motto emblazoned on the Gadsden Flag with a yellow field and a coiled up rattlesnake ready to strike. One of the first flags of the United States, it was soon replaced by the traditional stars and stripes of Old Glory. Since the American Revolution, the “Don’t Tread on Me” slogan has been used to express disagreement with government.
Outback has not challenged Geller’s claim for unemployment benefits and representatives for Geller are mum about whether they plan to file a lawsuit for damages against the popular steakhouse chain.
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