Police officer suspended after driving with Confederate flag

FILE - In this July 19, 2011 file photo, Confederate battle flags fly outside the museum at the Confederate Memorial Park in Mountain Creek, Ala., Tuesday, July 19, 2011. Major retailers are halting sales of the Confederate flag after the June 17, 2015 shooting deaths of nine black church members in South Carolina. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)
FILE - In this July 19, 2011 file photo, Confederate battle flags fly outside the museum at the Confederate Memorial Park in Mountain Creek, Ala., Tuesday, July 19, 2011. Major retailers are halting sales of the Confederate flag after the June 17, 2015 shooting deaths of nine black church members in South Carolina. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)

TRAVERSE CITY, MI (AP) — A northern Michigan police officer has been suspended with pay after he was seen off-duty driving a pickup truck bearing a Confederate flag around a group protesting Republican Donald Trump’s election as president.

Officer Michael Peters’ suspension was announced Sunday by Traverse City police Chief Jeff O’Brien, who earlier said an internal investigation will start Monday to see whether Peters broke any departmental rules.

“He is not working as a police officer,” O’Brien told the Traverse City Record-Eagle (http://bit.ly/2euIuE5 ). “I do not condone his actions.”

O’Brien confirmed that Peters was in a photo taken from Friday’s rally. The newspaper could not reach Peters for comment, and The Associated Press was unable to find a telephone number for Peters.

The Confederate battle flag is seen by many people as a symbol of hatred and intimidation of African-Americans following the U.S. Civil War and the freeing of blacks from slavery.

The flag was flown from the rear bed of a pickup near a “Love Trumps Hate” rally in the city. The truck was then parked near the rally where the driver was seen drinking a beer.

O’Brien said the behavior was intimidating and not a reflection of the police department’s mission, according to the newspaper.

“We will get through this,” O’Brien said. “The community will get through this.”

There have been numerous reports of threats, intimidation and racially charged violence around the country since Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s presidential election.

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