After a day investigating the alleged placement of a noose in the racetrack garage stall of Bubba Wallace, the FBI says the rope was in place months before NASCAR’s only top-echelon black driver was assigned to the stall and that no federal crime was committed.
Here is the statement issued by NASCAR today:
“The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime. 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 View': NASCAR's Bubba Wallace Calls Noose-Doubters 'Simpleminded People Afraid Of Change'
According to ESPN, NASCAR President Steve Phelps has responded to the FBI report, calling it “the best result we could have hoped for. It was disturbing to think that one of our own could have committed this heinous act.” ESPN also quotes Phelps saying: “We were very cooperative. We provided the FBI with roster info and video evidence that aided them in their conclusion. The 43 team had nothing to do this with. The evidence was very clear the noose that was in their garage had been in there previously.”
A joint statement from U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr. reads:
On Monday, fifteen 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.
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. We offer our thanks to NASCAR, Mr. Wallace, and everyone who cooperated with this investigation.
Wood Brothers Racing, the team that occupied the garage stall prior to Wallace, has posted a statement noting that one of its employees recalled seeing a rope in the stall last October, and that the organization immediately notified NASCAR after news broke about a noose.
“We are thankful that there was no one involved in perpetrating hate during this weekend’s race,” Wood Brothers said in the statement. “Just like the rest of the NASCAR garage, we were shocked and appalled to learn of the existence of the rope fashioned like a noose. One of our employees alerted us yesterday morning that, without knowing the details of the incident, he recalled seeing a tied handle in the garage pull-down rope from last fall. We immediately alerted NASCAR and have assisted the investigation in every way possible. What transpired over the past day plus is a unity that has only served to strengthen the bonds between each and every crew member, fan and non-fan alike. The Wood Brothers organization is proud to stand with Bubba Wallace and the entire industry as we work to make every race fan a part of our NASCAR family.”
The FBI finding comes just hours after Wallace said on The View he was offended but “not shocked” by internet rumors suggesting there was either no noose or that it had been placed there by NASCAR to garner support for the removal of the Confederate flag.
“People are entitled to their own opinion to make them feel good or help them sleep at night,” Wallace told The View‘s Sunny Hostin. “Simpleminded people like that, the ones who are afraid of change, they use everything in their power to defend what they stand for.”
Wallace did not see or report the rope; he was informed by NASCAR officials Sunday that it had been found hanging in his garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway, where the Geico 500 was run Monday night.
Wallace had moved into that particular garage stall only recently; photos and videos show the rope in place there since at least October.
In a show of support, NASCAR drivers and crew walked in solidarity behind Wallace’s car at the Talladega Superspeedway prior to Monday’s race. NASCAR this month banned the Confederate flag at all of its events, and
Wallace had advocated for the ban. He told CNN’s Don Lemon recently that the the flags should “have no place” in the sport, adding, “Get them out of here.”
NASCAR returned to live racing on May 17 after being parked since March 13 amid the coronavirus outbreak.
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