A man who was seen proudly flying a Confederate flag from his truck at a downtown Hamilton construction site has been fired, his employer says.
Keith Lipiec posed for pictures with the flag at a Yoke Group job site at Hamilton's historic Treble Hall at the corner of King and John Streets yesterday.
He refused to give his name to a reporter, but said in an interview that he was flying a flag that is largely condemned as a racist symbol for "sh-ts and giggles," and defended its use. He also got into a shouting match with a citizen, who challenged his use of the flag.
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Yoke Group owner and CEO Anthony Quattrociocchi told CBC News Monday evening that Lipiec has been fired.
"I have absolutely zero tolerance for this behaviour. He will no longer be working for Yoke Group," Quattrociocchi said in an email.
'We encourage freedom of speech but not when it evokes any form of hatred or discrimination.' - Yoke Group statement
Yoke Group also issued a statement on its Facebook page yesterday evening, saying the company believes "strongly in diversity, inclusiveness and acceptance."
"There is zero tolerance for racism and discrimination in our business and on our sites," the statement reads. "We were deeply offended by the actions of the rogue temporary employee at our Treble Hall site today.
"We do not condone or support this individual's actions. We encourage freedom of speech but not when it evokes any form of hatred or discrimination."
Lipiec did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning.
In recent years, the Confederate flag has been removed from the South Carolina State House and decried by former U.S. President Barack Obama. Debates have raged for decades over whether it represents southern pride and a state's right to freedom, or whether it is nothing more than a symbol of racism and hatred.
Tensions around Confederate symbols escalated even further this month, after a car sped into a group of several dozen counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
The flag has been adopted by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, avowed fascists and several other ultra right-wing groups.