A volunteer firefighter was suspended after he decorated his department’s fire truck with the Confederate flag at a parade in Minnesota.
Brian Nielsen, 43, says he’s not a racist. He said he flew both the Confederate and American flags on the back of the Hartland Fire Department truck because he is tired of political correctness, KMSP reported.
Despite his intentions, Nielsen’s decoration was not well received by others. Someone at the Third of July Parade in Albert Lea, Minnesota, posted a photo of the fire truck online and it quickly went viral.
"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.
Hartland Fire Chief Trent Wangen suspended Nielsen on July 5. An investigation has been launched. Nielsen said he believes he will be asked to step down.
The Confederate flag has become a topic of heated debate following a mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, where Dylann Roof is accused of shooting and killing nine people at a historically black church. The attack is said to have been racially motivated and Roof posted photos on social media with a Confederate flag.
Major retailers such as Walmart, Amazon, Sears and eBay have already decided to stop selling Confederate flag merchandise, CNN reported.
Still, Nielsen says his actions were not motivated by race.
"I don't see race," he said. "Black and white are the same to me. My belief is that 'politically correct' is going too far."
Photo Credit: Screenshot via KMSP