Before the FBI determined Bubba Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime, the driver went on The View on June 23 and said he was “hurt” by the incident.
NASCAR officials reported a noose was found hanging in his garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on June 21. Many accused the incident to be a hoax, with Wallace–the only black driver in NASCAR–saying he was not shocked.
“People are entitled to their own opinion to make them feel good or help them sleep at night,” he said. “Simpleminded people like that, the ones who are afraid of change, they use everything in their power to defend what they stand for.”
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Wallace did not find the item in his garage, instead it was discovered by NASCAR officials. “I don’t know how I would have reacted,” Wallace said about finding the rope.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Item Had Been in The Garage Since Last Fall
There is only 1 driver from an African American background at the top level of our sport..I am the 1. You're not gonna stop hearing about "the black driver" for years. Embrace it, accept it and enjoy the journey..
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) November 8, 2017
Before the existence of the item was reported, NASCAR banned the confederate flag, a move that was spearheaded by Wallace. One conspiracy theory, cited by Deadline, claimed the noose was placed in Wallace’s garage to garner support for the ban.
The FBI, however, determined the noose was a “garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose” that had been there since last year.
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.
NASCAR was “thankful” to learn it was not a racist act. “We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba,” they said in a public statement. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.”
Wallace did not immediately issue a response after the FBI determined the incident was not a hate crime. When the item was first discovered on June 21, Wallace said he was saddened by the event.
“Today’s 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,” the beginning of his statement said.
“As my mother told me today, ‘They are just trying to scare you.’ This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down,” he continued. “I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in.”
Social Media Users Discussed the Incident
Upon the FBI determining the incident was not a hate crime, some social media users defended Wallace, saying he was still a victim.
“Sad to have to even say this but Bubba remains a victim in this. He didn’t find, report or announce the news of noose,” ESPN correspondent Elle Duncan wrote on June 23. “NASCAR did. And if you’re delighting in this because it WASN’T a hate crime.. think about what that says about you. Relief is the proper response, not smugness.”
Author John Pavlovitz added: “White people accusing Bubba Wallace about an incident he neither noticed nor reported, but was pointed out to him by NASCAR officials—shows how far the fanbase has to go in making any progress or making us believe that #BlackLivesMatter to them.”
Others, however, accused the incident of being a hoax, with “Noose Hoax” being one of the top-trending Twitter topics on June 23.
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) June 24, 2020
— Charlie Chambers (@Chambec) June 23, 2020