After a day-long investigation, the FBI has concluded that Bubba Wallace, the only Black full-time driver in the NASCAR Cup series, was not a victim of a hate crime. U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI special agent in charge Johnnie Sharp Jr., from the Northern District of Alabama of the U.S. Attorney’s office, released a joint statement that’s published on justice.gov and details the investigation.
“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 statement explained.
The statement further revealed that garage number four, where the noose was found, had been assigned to Wallace one week before the incident. Through NASCAR video the FBI determined that the noose had been in the garage since as early as October 2019. Given that information, the FBI explained that no one could have known that Wallace would be assigned to that specific garage number. It also stated that “the decision not to pursue federal charges is proper after reviewing all available facts and all applicable federal laws.”
NASCAR issued a separate statement on Twitter confirming the FBI’s conclusion on the matter and explained that the noose was just a pull rope that was tied together. Check out the full statement below.
During an interview with CNN correspondent Don Lemon on Tuesday, June 23, Wallace expressed that what he saw was not a garage pull. He reportedly saw a photo of the object that was found by a teammate who reported what he found. “From the evidence that we have, that I have, it’s a straight-up noose” Wallace explained. “It was a noose. 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 am saying.”
Wallace received an enormous amount of support after NASCAR reported that a noose was found in the garage stall of the African-American driver on Sunday, June 21, before the postponed Geico 500 race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. The incident occurred days after the organization announced that it would ban the Confederate flag at racing events, a move Wallace pushed firmly to make happen.
Among Wallace’s supporters was Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. The three-time NBA champion reacted to the news through his Twitter account.
“Sickening! @BubbaWallace my brother! Know you don’t stand alone! I’m right here with you as well as every other athlete,” James tweeted Sunday night. “I just want to continue to say how proud I am of you for continuing to take stand for change here in America and sports! @NASCAR I salute you as well!”
Other athletes, including Stephen Curry, also showed their support for Wallace. The Golden State Warriors star shared an emotional photo of the racer on his Instagram page on Monday, June 22. “This was REAL. Never met you @BubbaWallace. But feel like the world knows exactly who you are & what you’re about after today,” Curry captioned the post. “Star hate & bigotry right in the face & spread LOVE and HOPE. Now let’s find out who left that noose in the garage…. And while we r at it … arrest the cops who shot #breannataylor.”
On Monday, June 22, a video from Fox Sports displayed a crowd of people walking Wallace’s car to the front of the line before the Geico 500 race, which was run on Monday after rain wiped out Sunday’s race. The act was in a show of solidarity to the racer, who would go on to finish 14th in Monday’s race. The group included fellow drivers, crew members and more. NASCAR tweeted the clip writing, “We rally around @BubbaWallace.”
Despite the great deal of support, allegations claiming that the noose incident was staged began circling the internet. Wallace appeared on ABC’s “The View” on Tuesday, June 23 to address accusations that the noose incident might’ve been NASCAR’s doing to gain more support after banning the Confederate flag from race venues.
During the remote interview, the race-car driver expressed to co-host Sunny Hostin that he was offended but not shocked by the rumor. “People are entitled to their own opinion to make them feel good or help them sleep at night,” Wallace explained. “Simple-minded people like that, the ones who are afraid of change, they use everything in their power to defend what they stand for.”