The voter, since identified as Clayton Hickey, had his picture taken at the polls on Tuesday in Olive Branch, Mississippi, by fellow voter Rashaud, who asked BuzzFeed News not to identify him by his full name due to safety concerns.
Although Rashaud did eventually delete the photo after sharing it on social media, a friend of his reposted the image on Twitter, where it quickly grabbed the attention of netizens. Rashaud's friend previously stated that Hickey was working at the polling station; however, that statement was later rescinded.
— smokeySr🐶🐶🐶 (@smokeydaQue1212) November 7, 2018
"When I saw him I wanted to say something, but my mom was like, ‘Don't say anything,' so I took a picture and posted it on Facebook," Rashaud told BuzzFeed. "It's crazy — they try to say the rebel flag is not racist, but to have a noose on the rebel flag, it's like, what are you trying to say?"
"It just shocks me that people feel it's OK to come out in public like this. I was just kind of shook up," he added.
With the photo gaining more and more attention online, it was only a matter of time before Hickey was identified and his employer caught wind of the matter.
"We take the health and well-being of our patients and the community we serve seriously," the hospital said in a Wednesday statement. "All allegations of inappropriate behavior involving employees are reviewed and investigated. We are aware of a photograph in circulation, we are investigating and will take appropriate action."
By the time Thursday rolled around, Hickey was fired from his job as an EMT.
"As of today, November 8, 2018, we have completed our investigation, and what we learned led to the termination of the employee in question," Regional One Health said in a statement released via Twitter. "Regional One Health holds employees to a high standard. We are committed to upholding our mission to provide compassionate care and exceptional services to all."
"This includes fostering a safe and protected work and care environment for all. Behaviors contrary to these principles are unacceptable and will not be tolerated," it added.
Prior to becoming an EMT, Hickey worked as an officer with the Memphis Police Department until 2010, when he parted ways with the force after he was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Hickey had reportedly been found with a 17-year-old girl and an open case of alcohol behind a local elementary school, according to the Memphis Flyer.
In 2011, Hickey made attempts to improve his online reputation, publishing posts in which he indicated that he was a "brave person" who'd worked with the Memphis police. He'd also indicated that he was a "socially responsible person."
This description, however, doesn't sit well with Deidre Malone, the president of the Memphis chapter of the NAACP, who told WMS Action News 5 that she has "serious concerns" about Hickey's employment at any facility "that treats diverse groups of people."
"It is unfortunate that in 2018, we are still dealing with this type of racist display and behavior," she said.
According to Memphis news station WREG, Mississippi rules indicate that voters can wear any clothing they want to the polls as long as it doesn't show a candidate's face or name. Hickey has not yet spoken out over the matter.