WEST ST. PAUL, Minn., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- A member of the city council in West St. Paul, Minn., has removed a Confederate flag he flew outside his home, saying it had become a distraction.
Ed Hansen had resisted calls to take down the flag, a symbol of racism to many, but took it down after talking with Jim Bauer, the corporate president of Rocco's Pizza, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. Hansen owns a Rocco's franchise and Bauer said he had a heart-to-heart chat with him Monday.
"I was upset," Bauer said. "It doesn't reflect Rocco's Pizza in any way shape or form. I don't condone the flying of the Confederate flag for whatever reason. I think he went about trying to get his point across in the wrong way."
At a council meeting Monday, some of Hansen's constituents also objected to the flag.
"I fully support your right as a private citizen to fly whatever flag you want at your house," Ken Paulman said. "That's your right. The problem is that Councilman Hansen, you are not a private citizen. And when you chose to take this job, you became a public official. And what that means -- whether you think that's fair or not -- is you are held to a higher standard."
Hansen, who earlier had rejected the mayor's request that he take it down, insisted he was flying the flag, which included the word "Redneck," as a token of free speech and not as a gesture of support for the Confederacy. He said he relented because people "wanted to get into debates about Civil War history."
"This is a question of personal liberty. It has nothing to do with racism," the newspaper quoted him as saying.
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