Minnesota firefighter suspended after flying Confederate flag during Independence Day parade

Brian Nielsen said he was reacting to 'political correctness'

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The Independent US

A volunteer firefighter from Minnesota has been suspended after he flew a Confederate flag from an engine that he drove in an Independence Day holiday parade.

Brian Nielsen, 43, drove a Hartland Fire Department truck in the Third of July Parade in the southern Minnesota city of Albert Lea.

Mr 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 his actions

Mr Nielsen claimed that he was not a supporter of slavery and that he had acted out of a wish to counter what he termed “political correctness”.

"It was my decision and I didn't think it was going to be a big deal, but boy was I wrong," he told the Associated Press.

He said Hartland Fire Chief Trent Wangen suspended him Sunday pending an investigation.

“More than likely I'll probably be asked to step down,” Nielsen said. “I respect that and will do that if they want.”

Friday's parade was organised by the Albert Lea Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber’s executive director, Randy Kehr, said the display was “unfortunate” but within the firefighter's rights. He told the Star Tribune newspaper he not know ahead of time that the truck would carry the Confederate flag, and that he would have asked Mr Nielsen not to fly it if he had known.