Accusations of racism are being hurled at a Napa Valley wine tour company following an incident over the weekend. A book club of 11 African-American women says it was kicked off the Napa Valley Wine Train on Saturday "for laughing and talking too loud," reports the SF Gate.
After at least one fellow tour patron complained about the women's noise level, the group was escorted off the train in St. Helena, where it was met by police officers. Book club member Lisa Johnson told the SF Gate, "It was humiliating. ... I felt like it was a racist attack on us. I feel like we were being singled out." The women received a refund from the tour company, but say they're waiting for a public apology.
The incident has ignited a social media storm centered around the hashtag #LaughingWhileBlack, with scores of negative Yelp reviews being posted for the Napa Valley Wine Train in the past couple days. One reviewer writes: "I highly recommend this for all white power activists and go-ol' racists in general! Can we just change the name to the Napa WHITE Train? it would be more accurate."
The wine tour company posted a statement to its Facebook page following the incident, which has since been deleted. According to the SF Gate, it read in part, "Following verbal and physical abuse toward other guests and staff, it was necessary to get our police involved. Many groups come on board and celebrate. When those celebrations impact our other guests, we do intervene." The company claims it kicks someone off the tour about once a month.