After flying a Confederate flag from a firetruck during a holiday parade on Friday, a Minnesota volunteer firefighter was suspended Sunday by the fire department's chief.
Brian Nielsen flew the Confederate flag from the back of a Hartland Fire Department truck during the Third of July Parade in Albert Lea, CBS Local reported.
The flag immediately drew criticism from locals and social media.
The 43-year-old has been a volunteer firefighter and EMS with the Hartland Fire Department for more than 10 years, the Albert Lea Tribune reported.
Nielsen told CBS Local that the Fire Chief Trent Wangen suspended him because he was upset about all the negative attention the town is getting.
Nielsen said if the department asks him to resign after their investigation, that he will.
"I will out of respect for them, yes I will," he said. "I'm sorry I hurt my city and hurt the fire department."
Nielsen said to CBS Local that he is also willing to apologize to the Albert Lea Chamber of Commerce, which organized the parade.
Nielsen said the Confederate flag's display was his decision and he did not think he needed the department's approval.
He said that he never expected the flag to get so much attention, and that he felt that politically correct people were trying to rewrite history.
"It's not that I'm up for the rebel or the slavery part of it, " Nielsen said to the Albert Lea Tribune. "It's history. They're trying to take this flag away. They're basically trying to change the history and abolish it and get rid of it."
The firefighter's suspension comes about two weeks after nine people were killed at a historic black church in Charleston by a gunmen who posed in photos with the Confederate flag.
The shooting has ignited a debate across the country about the Confederate flag, with the South Carolina Legislature expected to debate Monday whether to remove it from the Statehouse grounds.
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.
Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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