Actor Chris Pratt was recently spotted wearing a navy blue t-shirt with the controversial "Don't Tread On Me" flag, triggering a debate on social media as some people called it "racist". Pratt was pictured walking outside in Los Angeles with his wife Katherine Schwarzenegger, earlier this week, and was seen wearing an American flag t-shirt with a rattlesnake superimposed on it, sitting atop the phrase "Don't Tread On Me."
Reports stated the t-shirt is actually a combination of Old Glory and the Gadsden flag. The flag and the slogan seen on Pratt's t-shirt was originally created during the Revolutionary War as a message from the American colonies to England. The flag, since then, has been adopted by multiple far-right political groups.
Though initially it had nothing to do with racism, the Gadsden flag has been used by some white supremacists in recent years alongside Nazi and confederate flags. In 2014, Jerad and Amanda Miller, who killed two officers in Las Vegas, draped their slain bodies with Swastikas and the Gadsden flag.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruling in 2016, the controversial flag could be seen as racial harassment in the workplace. The Commission, however, noted that while the flag does not have racist origins, in recent times it can be "sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts," according to TMZ.
The controversy began when the actor's t-shirt was outright called a "white supremacist" shirt in a Yahoo UK article. The outlet has seemingly changed its headline since then. It is not yet clear whether Pratt, who is known to be a conservative, wore the t-shirt knowing its contemporary links to racist organizations.
Twitter user Tim Byrnes said: "I like him, but all these small things about his politics makes me wonder when he’ll say something transphobic, tank his career, and do the full heel-turn into a Fox commentator." While another wrote: "Ellen Page called him out and some of y'all didn't listen now look at this sh*t."