The FBI is investigating the discovery of a noose found in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black full-time driver, weeks after the racing body banned the confederate flags at all of its events.
Two weeks ago, Wallace successfully pushed NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at its venues as protests over police brutality and racial injustice swept over the entire country and the world.
Over the past weeks, as the nation witness social unrest following George Floyd’s death, Wallace wore a black T-shirt with the words “I Can’t Breathe” at one race and also had a #BlackLivesMatter paint scheme at another.
The noose was reportedly discovered on the same day NASCAR’s flag ban faced its biggest challenge. According to U.S. Attorney Jay Town, the FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division were reviewing the situation. “Regardless of whether federal charges can be brought, this type of action has no place in our society,” Town said.
The governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey condemned the act. She said she was “shocked and appalled” by the “vile act” against Wallace, an Alabama native. In a statement, NASCAR said: “We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act.”
“The despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism,” Wallace said on Twitter.
Upon hearing about the incident, NASCAR community has rallied around Wallace. “The news has disturbed us all and of course we want justice and know who and why,” said seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. “And we want to stand with our friend.”
“Over the last several weeks, I have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the NASCAR industry including other drivers and team members in the garage,” Wallace said.
“Together, our sport has made a commitment to driving real change and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone. Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate.”
In a tweet supporting Wallace, NBA star LeBron James called the noose “Sickening!”. “Know you don’t stand alone! I’m right here with you as well as every other athlete,” James wrote. “I just want to continue to say how proud I am of you for continuing to take a stand for change here in America and sports!”
Sickening! @BubbaWallace my brother! Know you don’t stand alone! I’m right here with you as well as every other athlete. I just want to continue to say how proud I am of you for continuing to take a stand for change here in America and sports! @NASCAR I salute you as well! ??✊?? https://t.co/1TwkjVHai5— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 22, 2020