— Chris Hrapsky (@ChrisHrapsky) July 5, 2015
A volunteer firefighter from Hartland, Minnesota was suspended for flying a Confederate flag from his fire truck during a parade, the Huffington Post reports.
Brian Nielsen placed the controversial flag on the back of his parade truck in honor of the town’s “Third of July” festivities. The 43-year-old says he isn’t racist and would be willing to step down from his volunteer position at the Hartland Fire Department if necessary.
“I’m sick of the politically correctness, because they are trying to change too much in the United States,” Nielsen told KARE 11. “Me raising that flag had nothing to do with slavery. It had nothing to do with disrespect towards our vets. It was more of a statement against the PC. I’m sorry that I hurt my city and hurt the fire department. It was my decision and I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal, but boy was I wrong.”
Parade organizers called Nielsen’s choice to fly the flag “unfortunate.” Randy Kehr, executive director of the Albert Lea and Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, says vehicles are normally inspected before the parade, but public vehicles are not.
“The flag flying on the city of Hartland fire truck becomes the city of Heartland statement just like that flag in our parade has unfortunately become a statement about Albert Lea and our parade. Neither of those things should apply, and the only way to avoid that is to not do that,” said Kehr.
When asked if he would do it again, the father of one says yes.
“I guess it was a bad choice, but like I say, if I had to do it again I would, just not in a public vehicle,” said Nielsen.
Retailers like Walmart, Amazon, Sears, and Target have all discontinued the sale of Confederate flag merchandise in their stores since last month’s racially fueled attack on South Carolina’s Mother Emanuel AME church, before which suspected shooter Dylann Roof could be seen in personal photos posing next to the flag.