WEST JORDAN, Utah (ABC4 News) – Controversy surrounding the National Anthem at a city sponsored event after people were asked to stand up and salute the American and Confederate flag.
“When they brought it out and said, ‘please, rise for the National Anthem and for our flag, and for our troops, and for police officers and they brought out the Confederate Flag my son asked me, ‘are we really going to stand up for the Confederate Flag?” said Daniel Arugeta.
Arugeta, a West Jordan resident, took his wife and five kids to the derby at the West Jordan Arena Saturday night and was surprised to see the Confederate Flag when they walked in.
For him and his family it was a dilemma to not stand for the National Anthem last night.
“We don’t have a problem supporting the US flag, our troops, and police officers, obviously, my own brother is a police officer,” he said.
And he says when he saw the flag he understood it was an individual’s freedom of speech but it was when it was rolled out at the head of the procession — between two American flags and a Gadsden Flag — that he expressed concern. Making the decision to sit down in protest with his family.
“It has a strong history of racism and just dealing with slavery and we just couldn’t support that. We couldn’t support that as a family,” he said.
His actions not going unnoticed by spectators at the event, making his family feel very uneasy.
“People started looking at us and like talking about us and how we were sitting and weren’t standing up for the flag,” said his daughter Jessica Arugeta. “It made me feel uncomfortable and just weird.”
“It was uncomfortable, humiliating, demeaning,” said Arguetta. “It was demeaning to ask us to stand for a flag that has racist connotations to it.”
West Jordan City Parks Director Brian Clegg was working the ticket booth at the event Saturday night and says he and city employees weren’t aware of the flags display until after the National Anthem had taken place.
“City employees had made contact with the contractor and they took the Confederate flag down immediately,” he said.
West Jordan City spokesperson Kim Wells said, the flags display was not planned and not sure why the individual driving the truck chose to have the flag on their truck. She says it was poor judgment on their behalf and apologized for the misunderstanding.
The city has contracted with Stirrin’ Dirt Racing to put on the event and they have done so for the last five years without incident. They say they will have meetings with the company to reevaluate procedures and come up with a plan to keep situations like these from happening in the future.
“With West Jordan City we strive to bring family friendly events and in the future the flag ceremonies will be reviewed so the focus is on the American flag,” said Clegg.
Clegg says the person flying the flag was very apologetic and quickly removed the flag and put it away.
Since news of the controversy, the city says they have received numerous calls and Facebook comments about the situation. Arugeta says the problem goes beyond just one event and is proud for speaking up.
“Had we not stood up or said or mentioned anything, I think they would have gone unnoticed and that’s sad. That’s sad because we need to speak out when things like this happen and we need to let them know that it’s not acceptable,” said Argueta.
ABC4 News attempted to contact Sitrrin’ Dirt Racing but our calls went unanswered.