Noose or not, Bubba Wallace thanks NASCAR community for 'show of unity'

The FBI has concluded that there was “no crime committed”, following its investigation into a suspected noose that was found the in race garage of Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black driver, this past weekend.

The noose found in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace‘s garage stall on Sunday has been deemed a garage door pull, federal authorities and NASCAR confirmed Tuesday. But Wallace is standing firm, saying: “It’s a straight-up noose.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. released a statement regarding the investigation on Tuesday, saying: “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.”

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Per the FBI findings, the door pull in Garage No. 4 — Wallace’s assigned garage that weekend — had been there as early as October 2019, local publication AL.com reported.

NASCAR also released a statement saying that the 26-year-old driver “was not the victim of a hate crime” and that “photographic evidence confirms that the garage door pull fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall.”

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing,” NASCAR said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Wallace shared a statement describing the “emotional few days” he’d had during the investigation.

“First off, I want to say how relieved I am that the investigation revealed that this wasn’t what we feared it was,” he said. “I think we’ll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been.”

“Make no mistake, though some will try, this should not detract from the show of unity we had on Monday, and the progress we’ve made as a sport to be a more welcoming environment for all.”

On Tuesday night, Wallace appeared on CNN to discuss the incident.

“I’ve been racing all of my life. We’ve raced out of hundreds of garages that never had garage pulls like that,” he told CNN on Tuesday night. “So people that want to call it a garage pull and put out all the videos and photos of knots being as their evidence, go ahead, but from the evidence that we have — and I have — it’s a straight-up noose.

“I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity.

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“It was a noose,” he continued. “Whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose. So, it wasn’t directed at me, but somebody tied a noose. That’s what I’m saying.”

According to ESPN, the racing organization is continuing its own internal inquiry to identify the person who tied the rope into a noose.

A NASCAR official told ESPN.com on Tuesday night: “There (are) a lot of ways to tie a rope. This was unquestionably a noose. So, why?”

On Wednesday morning, Wallace tweeted about the recent backlash he’s faced.

“Integrity, something nobody will ever be able to take away from me. God will always test us to show how strong we truly are,” he tweeted. “Still standing proud and still smiling.”

At a Monday afternoon race following the incident, NASCAR drivers and crew members showed their solidarity with Wallace by pushing his car to the front of the grid at the Talladega Superspeedway.

Wallace has been at the forefront of changes within NASCAR, most recently the removal of the Confederate flag on racetracks.

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The incident has sparked a moving show of support from fans, too. In the stands on Monday, fans held up a sign reading “We support you, Bubba” with his number, 43, and the outline of a fist, raised in solidarity.

The noose symbolizes racism, violence and terror against Black people, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s website.

“Its origins are connected to the history of lynching in America, particularly in the South after the Civil War, when violence or threat of violence replaced slavery as one of the main forms of social control that whites used on African-Americans,” the website states.

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A recent Equal Justice Initiative report notes that more than 6,500 racial terror lynchings took place in the U.S. between 1865 and 1950 following the end of the American Civil War.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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