A Minnesota volunteer firefighter says he’s been suspended for flying a confederate flag from an engine during a holiday parade, and that he expects to be asked to resign.
Brian Nielsen drove a Hartland Fire Department truck in the Third of July Parade in the southern Minnesota city of Albert Lea. He flew both the Confederate and American flags from the back – a move that’s drawn community and social media criticism.
Nielsen, who’s been with the department for about 10 years, flew both the Confederate and American flags from the back of the truck. He said neither his town nor his department had anything to do with it.
Nielsen said he’s not for slavery, but did it because he was fed up with political correctness.
“It was my decision and I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal, but boy was I wrong,” Nielsen told The Associated Press.
— Dale Moerke (@demoerke) July 4, 2015
Nielsen says he may attend this week’s Albert Lea chamber of commerce meeting to make a formal apology.
Randy Kehr, the chamber’s executive director, called the incident unfortunate, but said he understands that Nielsen, who alone chose to fly the Confederate flag next to the Stars and Stripes, has freedom of speech.
Nielsen says he’s not for slavery or a racist, but feels political correctness is effectively changing the country’s history.
Nielsen said he wasn’t looking to get a lot of attention from his decision to fly the flag, and he didn’t think it would spur as much discussion as it has. He, himself, has a family member who is black, he said.
Nielsen said he talked with a few of the other firefighters on the department, and they supported him standing up for his rights.