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NASCAR Bans Confederate Flags From All Races & Events

NASCAR announced the decision after driver Bubba Wallace called for the ban on CNN.

Flags fly at Kentucky Speedway/ Getty Images

NASCAR announced on Wednesday that it would ban Confederate flags from its races, properties, and events. 

The auto racing giant announced its new policy as cities and protesters remove racist monuments and Confederate statues, and demonstrators around the world demand justice for Black people killed at the hands of police.  

“The presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” NASCAR wrote in a statement. “The display of the confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”

The announcement came after Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black driver in its top series, told CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday that NASCAR should ban the flags from events. Wallace wore a shirt that said “I can’t breathe” before a race on Sunday in solidarity with George Floyd, who died after a white officer choked him during an arrest. Video shows Floyd pleading with officers, repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe,” echoing the words of Eric Garner, who died after an officer choked him, in 2014. Demonstrators have chanted the phrase during the nationwide protests. 

“No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race,” Wallace told Lemon. “It starts with Confederate flags… Get them out of here. They have no place for them.” 

Wallace also raced in a vehicle emblazoned with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia on Wednesday night. 

Confederate flags have frequently appeared at modern NASCAR events, particularly in the South. The company urged fans in 2015 not to bring Confederate flags to events after a white supremacist attacked a predominantly Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine Black people.  

The flags had still appeared at NASCAR events since then. The ban comes as CEOs have stepped down and networks have canceled or pulled TV shows and movies as the nation reckons with systemic racism. 

While many people applauded NASCAR’s decision to ban the flags, some reacted with outrage. NASCAR driver Ray Ciccarelli announced Wednesday in a Facebook post that he would be quitting the sport because of the new rule. (The post is not currently publicly viewable.)

“Well its been a fun ride and dream come true but if this is the direction Nascar is headed we will not participate after 2020 season is over , i don't believe in kneeling during Anthem nor taken ppl right to fly what ever flag they love,” Ciccarelli wrote on Facebook described by CBS Sports. 

Others praised NASCAR for the decision: 

NASCAR has not specified how it will enforce the new rule. Races continued without fans in May after postponing events due to the spread of coronavirus. It’s been one of the first sporting events to resume after the pandemic forced all major sports to postpone their seasons.