EMT asked to remove thin line, half-Confederate flags at racetrack

The EMT at Ruidoso Downs Race Track in New Mexico was told to take down a thin red line flag, thin blue line flag and half-U.S., half-Confederate flag that were on his vehicle


Matthew Asher
Carlsbad Current-Argus, N.M.

RUIDOSO DOWNS, N.M. — The Ruidoso Downs said it wants fans to enjoy the racing events and not be distracted by issues outside of horse racing.

Ruidoso Downs General Manager Jeff True said he asked an employee to remove flags attached to a vehicle during the July 4 weekend as the Rainbow Futurity Trials races were underway.

An EMT employed at Ruidoso Downs Race Track says he was asked to remove a thin red line flag, thin blue line flag and half-U.S., half-Confederate flag from his vehicle by the general manager. (AP Photo/Jake Schoellkopf)
An EMT employed at Ruidoso Downs Race Track says he was asked to remove a thin red line flag, thin blue line flag and half-U.S., half-Confederate flag from his vehicle by the general manager. (AP Photo/Jake Schoellkopf)

EMT Mike Curtis, whose job includes performing COVID-19 tests at the racetrack, drove a vehicle with three flags on the back. The flags were a "Thin Red Line" flag to honor firefighters, a "Thin Blue Line" flag to honor police and a flag which depicted half of a U.S. flag and half of a Confederate flag.

"Before the weekend my coworkers and I planned to bring up some of our flags, our American flags, our police support flags and firefighter support flags, seeing that's kind of who we are," Curtis said. 

Curtis said some patrons complimented the exhibit while others criticized.

True said he asked Curtis to take the flags down.

"That's not a place for employees to be flying flags. There's no standing policy or a formal declaration of any kind," True said. "It's just not appropriate for employees to be flying flags of any kind in that environment. The fact that they had a half-rebel flag while they were doing it exacerbated the situation. I let my employees know we didn't want them flying flags in that environment."

Curtis said he complied with the request, and though he asked to be allowed to leave one up was not granted an exemption.

"I'm baffled that they wouldn't let us have (the flags) up when (the Downs) has a huge American flag in the middle of the track and two at the entry of the tracks," Curtis said. "I don't understand. When they have trouble at the track who do they call? The police officers to help them. Why wouldn't they support your local police department? It blows my mind."

Next up for the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack is the Rainbow Weekend, the second leg of the quarter horse triple crown, starting Friday, July 17. The $700,000 Rainbow Derby is scheduled for Saturday.

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©2020 the Carlsbad Current-Argus (Carlsbad, N.M.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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