By Tessa Berenson
August 25, 2015

A mostly black book club was kicked off a wine train in Napa Valley for being too loud but club members say their ejection was racially motivated.

The 11 women in the group, all but one of whom are black, told San Francisco station KTVU that they were being shushed even before the train left the station for laughing and talking about their recent book. Halfway through the ride, they were escorted off the train to police waiting outside.

“It was very humiliating, very degrading,” said Dininne Neal, ” and it made my mom cry, which made me cry.”

Wine Train spokeswoman Kira Devitt sent KTVU a written statement saying the train removes disruptive guests about once a month. “We do not enjoy asking guests to depart early, but we take these issues seriously to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all of our guests,” the statement read.

The incident set off a social media firestorm Monday with the hashtag #laughingwhileblack.

“We didn’t do anything wrong,” leader Lisa Johnson told KTVU, “and we still feel this is about race, we were singled out.

[KTVU]

Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.berenson@time.com.

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