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Beckley Motorsports Park sells shirts, stirs controversy

MOUNT HOPE, W.Va. (WVVA) New battle lines are being drawn in the debate over the confederate flag and its place in today's society.

Just days after Nascar banned the rebel banner, the Beckley Motorsports Park is taking a different approach -- making new t-shirts with the flag.

A Facebook post by the business described the decision:

"Here's the new track shirts, it's a shirt. We are not against anyone nor do we hate anyone. All lives matter."

In a phone interview with WVVA News on Thursday, the owner, Robert Mooney, said there was no ill motive for selling the shirts. He said it is about raising money for homeless children -- who get free admission and food at the park.

"We sell what we sell. We've been doing this for over three years. There was no intention to sell a particular flag. It's just an old flag, an old piece of heritage. We don't have any hatred in our hearts for anybody," he explained.

In defending the post, he said "we're all Americans. All of us are Americans. And we all matter."

Emily Duncan is a motor sports patron with her family. But with members who are African-American, she said she won't be making any trips to the Beckley Motorsports Park now.

"It hurts my feelings. All lives matter-- that's not what we're going for. Of course all lives matter. We're trying to pay attention to the black lives that are being taken relentlessly."

Beckley's Human Rights Commission Chair Danielle Stewart said the flag sends a message not just about the past, but also today.

"It's about inclusion. Whether you want to be family-friendly and welcome everybody. When you throw the Confederate battle flag up, you're automatically saying we don't want you here. We're using this symbol to keep you away."

Mooney says he's almost sold out of the shirts and he has no plans to make more.

Annie Moore

Multimedia Journalist

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