Oregon man believes he was fired over his Mississippi state flag

Russell Smith with the American flag and the Mississippi state flag.

A Stayton man believes he was fired from his job in Aumsville because of a flag that some may consider offensive.

For Russell Smith, however, the Mississippi state flag is simply a proud reminder of his roots.

“It’s my heritage, not hate,” the Mississippi native told Fox 12.

Smith proudly flies it – and the American flag – from the bed of his truck.

But the state flag contains the Confederate emblem and Smith said a supervisor at Modern Building Systems asked him to take it down Tuesday after a co-worker complained.

“He said, ‘If you want to fly it you’ll have to park out here [off company property] and walk in, or if you want to drive in [on company property] you have to take your flags down,” Smith said.

Smith said he complied and parked his truck, and his flags, off company property Wednesday. He worked his whole shift and said he heard nothing more about it.

But then, at the end of the day, he was suddenly fired.

“Shocked, I’ve been here for over five years now, irritated, just disbelief,” Smith said of learning the news.

He said he’s been flying various flags from his truck over the last two or three years, ranging from the state flag of Hawaii to cartoon character flags for his kids – even the confederate flag – and nobody said a thing.

Fox 12 reached out to Modern Building Systems several times and heard back from a company lawyer who said the company doesn’t comment publicly on personnel issues.

Now, Smith is considering legal options and hopes to have a new job soon.

“I was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, I’m proud of where I’m from,” he said. “My forefathers died for our flag, my grandfather, other people – there’s been a lot of bloodshed over this and I’m just going to take a stand. Nobody is going to take my flag away. Period.”

Copyright 2015 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


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