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Update: NASCAR says Bubba Wallace not victim of hate crime; noose in garage since last year

Updated June 23, 5:23 p.m.

NASCAR issued a statement this afternoon saying Bubba Wallace wasn’t target of a hate crime.

“The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime,” said NASCAR’s statement. “

“The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall. This was obviously well before the 43 team’s arrival and garage assignment. We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.”

The FBI said on Monday 15 FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway. 

“After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed,” said the U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp in a joint statement Tuesday.

The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week. The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019.  Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.

“The decision not to pursue federal charges is proper after reviewing all available facts and all applicable federal laws,” said the FBI. “We offer our thanks to NASCAR, Mr. Wallace, and everyone who cooperated with this investigation.”

—– Original story —–

ALABAMA – U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town from the northern District of Alabama, the FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division are investigating after a noose was found in NASCAR star Bubba Wallace’s garage.

The noose was found by a member of Wallace’s team Sunday and brought it to the attention of NASCAR.

“Regardless of whether federal charges can be brought, this type of action has no place in our society,” said Town in a statement Monday.

Wallace – who is the only black driver in NASCAR’s top circuit – has been an outspoken advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement. At one NASCAR event Wallace wore a shirt that said “I Can’t Breathe” and he repainted his car with the words “Black Lives Matter.”

Bubba Wallace has been an outspoken advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement and called on NASCAR to ban the confederate flag. (Bleacher Report Twitter photo)

The Dept. of Justice’s announcement Monday followed NASCAR’s statement Sunday that they were investigating after the noose was found in Wallace’s garage stall.

“We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act,” said NASCAR.

NASCAR told CNN that the garage area where the noose was found is restricted to essential personnel such as race teams, NASCAR officials, security and health and safety personnel.

Wallace issued a statement Sunday saying, “This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down.”

Bubba Wallace (Twitter photo)

Before Wallace raced at Talladega Monday, NASCAR drivers showed their support for Wallace before the race. NASCAR drivers and crew members joined Bubba Wallace, pushing his No. 43 car to the front at Talladega.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, and co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports that runs Wallace’s #43 car, released a statement supporting Wallace.

“I’m enraged by the act of someone placing a noose in the garage stall of my race team,” he said. “There is absolutely no place in our sport or our society for racism.

“This filthy act serves as a reminder of how far we still have to go to eradicate racial prejudice and it galvanizes my resolve to use the resources of Richard Petty Motorsports to create change. The sick person who perpetrated this act must be found, exposed, and swiftly and immediately expelled from NASCAR. I believe in my heart this despicable act is not representative of the competitors I see each day in the NASCAR garage area. I stand shoulder to shoulder with Bubba, yesterday, today, tomorrow and every day forward.”

Earlier this month Wallace called on NASCAR to ban the confederate flag.

NASCAR responded by announcing they would ban the Confederate flag saying that the flag’s presence at NASCAR events “runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry.”

“Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special,” the statement said.

Bubba Wallace. Zach Catanzareti Photo at https://flickr.com/photos/58980992@N03/40433164304

-sarah.murphy@albertapressleader.ca

Sarah Murphy/Alberta Press Leader

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