Tri-Cities residents react to NASCAR Confederate flag ban

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BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – The decision by NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from its events is sparking heated reactions from people on both sides of the issue.

NASCAR’s recent decision to ban the confederate flag on all events and properties is causing praise and uproar, including right here in ‘Race Country’. Locals and NASCAR fans spoke with Pheben Kassahun about the recent change done by NASCAR.

“As long as you don’t put the confederate flag above the American flag, I don’t have any problem with it,” Sullivan County resident Linda Karlsson said.

Karlsson, who calls herself a Yankee, said fans should be able to display their flag wherever they desire.

Karlsson said, “I know that the Confederacy was part of the Civil War and people have pro and con thoughts about that, but it’s each individual’s choice as to what they want to look at and honor.”

Across the state line, Bristol, Virginia resident Charlie Clevenger said the flag is not the issue. He said it is the people.

“It’s the people who portray all the hate and the protesting and everything and they’re getting blamed for all of that through a flag,” Clevenger said.

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In 2015, NASCAR asked fans to stop bringing Confederate flags to races after Dylann Roof killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina. Following the shooting, photos circulated of Roof posing with the flag.

“If you’re telling me that by removing the rebel flag, we’re going to get more international visitors and campers and people who just see this stigma from 5,000 miles away,” Hick’s White Top Campground owner-operator, Rocco Valluzzo said. “Or just a ‘beware’ symbol, I’m all for it. If it’s good for NASCAR, good for everyone.”

Rocco Valluzzo said he will not make a policy unless he has to.

“We’re the bar at Casablanca. I hate telling people what to do. This is supposed to be family friendly,” Valluzzo said.

We reached out to Bristol Motor Speedway about its thoughts on the recent change. BMS’s parent company released this statement:

“Speedway Motorsports supports NASCAR’s decision to prohibit the confederate flag at our events. The slogan Charlotte Motor Speedway, our first speedway, was founded upon in 1960 was ‘It’s for everyone.’ We will always strive to make our speedways welcome to all fans.”

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