Minn. City Councilman Defends Confederate Flag Outside His Home: ‘My Free Speech’

A Minnesota city councilman has a Confederate flag hanging outside his home and says he's not taking it down, no matter what people say. "It's my house," West St. Paul Councilman Ed Hansen told the Pioneer Press. "What's the problem?" Plenty, according to the city's mayor, John Zanmiller. The flag, visible from a busy avenue and to visitors at a nearby park, also has the word "redneck" written across it. "I don't like it," Zanmiller said. "Do I wish the flag wasn't there? Yes." While the mayor acknowledged he is not aware of any complaints made to the city, he reached out to Hansen on Friday about taking it down. Hansen declined, and Zanmiller acknowledged the decision is ultimately Hansen's.

Hansen, a first-term councilman elected in 2010, told the Pioneer Press he put the flag outside his house over the summer to no complaints. He said being an elected official should not matter one way or another. "It represents sovereignty, individual rights and individual liberty," he told the newspaper. "It's my free speech, and that's my choice." He dismissed any racist connotation the flag carries. "I'm not a racist, and I don't think it's racist," he said. "People like to play the race card, though, when they don't get their way." Jay Brunn, a developer who's building a house next to Hansen's, claimed the flag caused one prospective buyer to shy away. When informed of that, Hansen told the Pioneer Press: "Good. I don't want him for a neighbor then. If people choose to be ignorant, that's their own fault. They should study history. It represents true sovereignty."