Posted on November 2, 2004

Flag Exchange? NASCAR Suspects Shakedown

Cammy Clark, The Miami Herald, Oct. 31

HAMPTON, Ga. — A newly formed group called the National Association for Minority Race Fans said it is planning a Confederate flag exchange on Sunday before the Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but NASCAR officials believe the group has more sinister plans.

Alston & Bird LLP, an Atlanta law firm representing NASCAR, sent a letter to Texas businessman John Eckerd on Wednesday accusing him of conspiring with NAMRF to plan a staged racial incident using actors who will try to get arrested.

The letter also said Eckerd is helping to plan the hiring of an actress to falsely claim she had been raped or sexually assaulted at a NASCAR event.

The reason is to create footage for a film project called either Dixie 500 or Jasper 500.

“It’s absurd that I’ve been dragged into this by NASCAR,” Eckerd said in a statement provided by NAMRF. “I believe in NAMRF’s cause and I believe the movie will be provocative and profitable. But to accuse me of being the point man of a group conspiring to stage a crime is preposterous.”

NAMRF’s statement said Eckerd is an independent consultant and part of a large group arranging financing for the documentary, which is scheduled for release Feb. 20 in conjunction with the Daytona 500.

Excerpts of the film on the NAMRF website show footage of racist comments from people appearing to be NASCAR fans.

Law enforcement, including the FBI, are looking into NASCAR’s allegations.

Shawn Griffith, who is producing the film, said Saturday that he is working with local law enforcement to stage a flag exchange at Atlanta Motor Speedway in which race fans are given either American, NASCAR or selected driver flags in exchange for Confederate flags.

NAMRF said its mission is “to make NASCAR races safe for all races.”

But NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said: “It’s clear now that this has nothing to do with civil rights, has nothing to do with diversity. Our worse suspicions are now confirmed that this is a scheme to intimidate NASCAR and to turn a profit.”

SLRC Speak Out To Protect Southen Symbols at NASCAR

Sierra Times, Nov. 2

BLACK MOUNTAIN, NC — A spokesperson for the nation’s leading Southern heritage advocacy group said Tuesday that the National Association of Minority Race Fans would be “ill advised” to try to make NASCAR fans put away their Confederate flags at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend.

The NAMRF, a protest group of about 50 members, claims NASCAR provides “unsafe environments” for women and minorities, although the only issue the group has so far raised is the traditional presence at NASCAR events of Confederate flags. NAMRF has called the flags “distasteful and disgusting” and “a sign of hatred”. The group says it will approach fans at the Atlanta race and “ask” them to swap their Confederate flags for American or NASCAR flags. A NAMRF spokesman has said, “Since NASCAR won’t take the flags down, we’ll do it for them.”

But Roger McCredie, Executive Director of the SLRC, called this plan “confrontational, ill advised and unneccessary” and added, “I know a lot of NASCAR fans. Like the rest of us, they see that flag as a symbol of their Southern-ness; they aren’t making a political statement with it. All the same, I don’t exactly see them rending their garments and throwing their battle flags in the dirt because some grandstanding protestor tells them to.”

McCredie called the NAMRF “just the latest bunch of professional malcontents looking to cash in on the ethnic cleansing of Southern culture.” Noting that NASCAR has issued no official response to NAMRF’s protests, he added, “being ignored drives folks like this nuts. They respond with slander, accusations and threats. It sort of makes you wonder who’s actually doing all this alleged hating, doesn’t it?” The Southern Legal Resource Center is a civil rights law firm that advocates on behalf of individuals whose constitutional and civil rights have been violated in connection with expressing pride in Southern heritage. It presently is representing plaintiffs in civil rights actions against DuPont, Westinghouse, the Federal Aviation Administration and school boards in several states. In 2002 the SLRC scored a precedent-setting judicial victory in the case of Castorina v. Madison County Schools, in which a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s upholding of a Kentucky school system’s ban on Confederate flag clothing.