Following an investigation, the FBI concluded that the noose found in Bubba Wallace’s No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday was not a federal crime, the U.S. attorney and FBI announced Tuesday afternoon.
“On Monday, fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway,” the joint statement from U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr. “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.”
Following law enforcement’s announcement, NASCAR put out its own statement Tuesday saying:
“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.”
NASCAR president Steve Phelps later pledged in a teleconference with reporters Tuesday afternoon to continue its own investigation into how and why rope in the garage was made into a noose.
Additionally, Wood Brothers Racing put out a statement saying one of its employees recalled Monday “seeing a tied handle in the garage pull-down rope from last fall.”
“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,” the Wood Brothers Racing statement read. “We immediately alerted NASCAR and have assisted in the investigation in every way possible.”
Sunday night after the GEICO 500 was postponed to Monday because of rain, NASCAR announced that a noose was found in the No. 43 team’s garage stall. It immediately opened its own investigation and said it would “eliminate” the person or people responsible from the sport.
Wallace, the only Black full-time driver in the Cup Series, has helped lead NASCAR’s response following the killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day and the subsequent protests nationwide and around the world. His most significant impact so far was calling for NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from all events, which the governing body did two days later on June 10.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: USA Today, Michelle R. Martinelli