Federal authorities said Tuesday that NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime, as a pull rope shaped like a noose had been on a garage door at Talladega as early as last fall.
On Sunday, a noose was found in the garage of NASCAR’s only Black driver successfully pushed the stock car racing series to ban the Confederate flag at its tracks and facilities, ESPN reported.
Update 10:53 p.m. June 23: In an interview Tuesday night with CNN, Wallace said what he saw in his garage “was a straight-up noose.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Wallace said. “Whether it was tied in 2019 or not, whenever, it was a noose. It wasn’t directed at me, but somebody tied it.”
Wallace said he is angry with people who are claiming the noose claim was a hoax.
“I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity,” Wallace told CNN. “You won’t break me. You won’t tear me down.”
Wallace said he was grateful for the compassion and support from NASCAR officials and his fellow drivers, who lined up in his support Monday on pit road.
Original report: According to a joint statement by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office from the Northern District of Alabama, garage number 4, which was occupied by Wallace prior to last week’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, contained the noose since October 2019.
“After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed,” the statement said.
The FBI said it relied on video evidence confirmed by NASCAR that the noose had been in place for more than eight months. Fifteen agents conducted interviews, the FBI said.
“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 statement said. “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.”
In a statement, NASCAR said it appreciated the FBI’s “quick and thorough” investigation, adding it was “thankful this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba.”
Before Monday’s race, Wallace was joined by all 39 other drivers and their crews in a march down pit road as they pushed his No. 43 to the front of the line, ESPN reported.
“This sport is changing,‘' Wallace told reporters after the race. “The prerace deal was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to witness in my life. From all the supporters, from drivers to crew members, everybody here, the badass fan base, thank you guys for coming out. This is truly incredible, and I’m glad to be a part of this sport.‘'
© 2020 Cox Media Group