NAACP asking questions after fan flew Confederate flag at Sonoma Raceway

ByCornell W. Barnard via KGO logo
Wednesday, July 27, 2022
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The NAACP is asking questions after a Confederate flag was spotted at Sonoma Raceway, despite the track having a policy that bans it.

SONOMA, Calif. (KGO) -- The appearance of a Confederate flag during a weekend event at Sonoma Raceway has the NAACP questioning how serious the track is about banning such offensive symbols from its property. The civil rights organization is asking for a policy review and an explanation.

The smell of burning rubber and the roar of engines was a signature mark of drag racing at Sonoma Raceway over the weekend.

The event draws thousands of fans, many camping overnight.

But the flying of a Confederate flag at one RV campsite was disturbing to Sonoma County NAACP President Kirstyne Lange.

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"I definitely feel there's a message the Confederate flag carries, and it's one that doesn't feel welcoming, given the history," Lange said.

The flag was spotted by one of Lange's chapter members but when she called the raceway to report it and ask that it be removed, she was met with some pushback.

"The vice president of communications did follow up and said they'd look into it, but when the member drove by later that evening, the flag was still mounted," Lange said.

Since 2018, Sonoma Raceway has had a strict policy posted on its website for fans, banning offensive flags and banners during racing events, but the NAACP questions how dedicated the track is to enforcing it.

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"When we set policy, you need a process to make sure it's followed through with," Lange said.

Sonoma Raceway officials said they monitor the property for offense flags but when they spotted this flag, the campsite was unoccupied. The campers removed the flag when they returned.

In a statement, Sonoma Raceway said: "While having a policy and believing in that policy are the important first steps, the crucial work is to monitor and act on the adherence to it by all of our guests FOR all of our guests. Our procedures to manage incidents like this are a top priority and will be further refined to prevent future incidents."

Lange has not received a response from raceway officials but hopes a conversation can happen soon.

"I think this is a great opportunity for our community to revisit how we are responding to matters that involve diversity, equality and inclusion when we have items representing the confederacy that's not a way to move us forward," said Lange.

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