FBI: The noose in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s garage wasn’t a hate crime

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I never imagined I would be writing this much about NASCAR, but here we are. Just a few weeks ago, NASCAR banned Confederate flags from all of their races. Rednecks were super-salty about it, but NASCAR stood their ground. It was part of a request from NASCAR’s only Black driver, Bubba Wallace. To their credit, NASCAR was happy to give Wallace a platform to speak about Black Lives Matter, social justice and the changes desperately needed not just within NASCAR, but around the country and the world.

So it seemed inevitable that Wallace would then become the target of racism and hate. Several days ago, Wallace’s team returned to his garage at Talladega and they found a noose in the garage. NASCAR called in the FBI to investigate and there was a lot of reaction, both good and bad. A lot of people questioned the incident, like those same people who were salty about the Confederate flags. But NASCAR and all of the NASCAR drivers & garage teams supported Bubba and they made a big show of it, which was nice. Richard Petty and other important NASCAR people publicly embraced Bubba at that photo-op.

Well, the FBI investigated the noose incident. And they found that it was just a misunderstanding involving a garage door pull or something:

The noose found by a member of Bubba Wallace’s team in his garage at the Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama, over the weekend has been in that stall since October of last year, the FBI’s investigation into the incident found. The FBI determined Tuesday that no hate crime had been committed against Wallace, who is the first Black full-time driver to race in the Cup Series in nearly 50 years.

“After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed,” said the FBI and U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town in a joint statement Tuesday, saying that 15 special agents conducted interviews on Monday.

The noose found in Wallace’s garage stall Sunday “was in that garage as early as October 2019,” the FBI said, citing evidence that included “authentic video confirmed by NASCAR.”

“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 joint statement said. No federal charges will be pursued.

“The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime,” NASCAR said in a statement Tuesday. “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,” the statement continued. “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,” the statement concluded.

[From People]

So it was a noose, but it was put there in 2019 and it wasn’t part of some hate crime against Wallace. NASCAR is now being criticized for jumping the gun and issuing a statement condemning the act, which they first saw as a hate crime (which it would have been if someone had put it there last week). I mean… I’m glad that NASCAR took this seriously, and I’m glad it wasn’t a hate crime directed at Bubba Wallace. Can’t that be enough?

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54 Responses to “FBI: The noose in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s garage wasn’t a hate crime”

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  1. LaraK says:

    It’s also disturbing that people at NASCAR are so comfortable around nooses that they don’t notice one hanging in their garage.

    I mean, I’ve got all sorts of rope and crap around my garage, but none of it is conveniently tied in a noose.

    • Mellie says:

      I grew up on a farm, all kinds of barns, garages etc…we never used a knot like that to tie any door to close any damn thing!

      • Tx_mom says:

        That’s what jumped out at me! The idea that other teams just casually decorate their garages in “noose” is Not Good. I imagine that among all those folks standing in the solidarity photo were… members of the Noose Crew.

      • Kriseth says:

        I saw someone else mention this…With all the ways you can tie a rope to pull down a garage door, someone decided to make a noose…That’s suspicious even if it wasn’t meant for Bubba.

      • ODIE says:

        Making a loop in rope with a running knot is so common in boating and outdoorsystuff- also in general. I don’t think you would use a noose or a lasso as a door pull though.

        The loop on a noose is meant to run…wouldn’t rope used as a handle have to stay fixed?

    • Dutch says:

      I’m not saying this is the case here, but that it’s been traced back to October makes me think of Halloween. Because they have the space, many tracks host Trunk or Treat events as part of their community outreach/philanthropy efforts. If they turned the garage area into some kind of haunted house, it’s plausible someone tied the noose as part of the decorations and no one noticed it until Sunday. I get that’s a lot of “lfs” (the real reason is likely some bored crew member or security guard tied it) but Halloween decorations could be a reason why it was ever there in the first place.

      • Tx_mom says:

        But couldn’t someone have said so? “Guys, that’s was our dumb Halloween decoration!”

      • shabs says:

        it’s been pretty clearly disproved that there’s no malintent here. I think people need to stop reaching. A handle was needed and someone tied what looks to be a standard slip knot and wrapped the end round a couple of times to tidy up the loose end.

  2. Erinn says:

    I know they’re going to get ripped up for it, but frankly, I really appreciate the steps Nascar has been taking lately. I know a lot of it improves their own image, but I don’t care. At least they took something that could have been incredibly serious, seriously. It’s better to be overly cautious with something like that, rather than let it slide.

    • margedebarge says:

      @ERINN I agree. NASCAR isn’t inherently racist, the issue is their current fan base. I’d love to see them somehow exchange their current fan base for a younger, more inclusive one. I attended a few races with my family as a kid and the cars and the noise and the tailgating is all such a spectacle. Can you even imagine if the drag community were to claim it or something?

    • JanetDR says:

      Yes, it’s a good sign of a change!

  3. Becks1 says:

    People’s reaction to this is so weird. (like Megyn Kelly’s.) It’s like they think that because it wasn’t a hate crime, there is no racism associated with NASCAR.

    We should all be happy 1) it wasn’t a hate crime and 2) NASCAR reacted as quickly as it did.

  4. Lightpurple says:

    It also was not a hoax. Right-Wing pundits were all over the place yesterday screaming that it was a hoax; it was not.

  5. Emily says:

    Good job NASCAR! It’s refreshing to see an organisation (particularly one as unexpected as NASCAR) taking the right steps for once.

  6. Jerusha says:

    I don’t blame them for supposedly jumping the gun. Assholes don’t want to let go of their racist symbols or their racist mindsets. We’ve all seen the Karen videos, the Chad videos. Two days ago I saw one of a woman screaming she was going to teach her grandchildren to hate Blacks. Yesterday, a noose was found hanging at the IP plant just outside Mobile, AL. Given the times, it was natural to think it was a hate crime. And good for all Bubba’s fellow drivers for rallying around him.

  7. Rae says:

    I am aware of how many people said this was another “Smollett”, which they’re jumping on now, even though Bubba wasn’t the one to report it. However, like you and other posters here I’ve said, I think that NASCAR and the other drivers did the right thing standing besides Bubba, and let’s be grateful that there wasn’t such an asshole who would have actually put a noose up, rather than being pissed his team raised the issue.

    • Lolo86lf says:

      That noose looks awfully conspicuous to me. I have never seen such a big noose in a garage before. I don’t buy it that it was not a hate crime.

      • Lizzieb says:

        @lolo86if. Agree. Am not buying that it was not a hate crime. Don’t imagine it would be too hard to have a few good old boys swear it was there all along. If the garage door needed an actual rope pull, wouldn’t there be documentation that the door needed fixing? The FBI may not be able to prove it but I think there was hatred at some level. They could have assigned Bubba another garage… instead of oops let’s assign the black guy the garage with the long standing noose decor

      • whatWHAT? says:

        yeah, I agree. whenever it was put there, it was a noose hung to intimidate, period.

      • Michelle says:

        @lolo86if There are pictures to prove that the rope that was tied like that was there in 2019. And no one knew what garage stall he would be assigned to for the race. I feel that it was just a complete misunderstanding and it was addressed quickly and resolved.

    • Lua says:

      I hate that people are calling it a hoax. They only just moved to that garage, they probably only just noticed it and took it seriously immediately because of the Confederate flag protest nonsense

  8. MargaritasForBreakfast says:

    Bubba Wallace is hot af. That is all..

  9. goofpuff says:

    Yeah considering how there are suddenly so many black men found hanging in public spaces in convenient “suicides”. it makes it hard to trust them FBI or any police report.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      This, right here.

    • Geeena says:

      Glad someone already brought this up! As well, I dgaf about nascar but they get minimal kudos for having his back right away when we usually see the vague mentions of investigating the incident fully and withholding judgement until all the facts are out.

      now that the fbi is free maybe they can get looking into all these lynchings, erm, I mean “suicides”

    • Market Street Minifig says:

      Absolutely!

  10. Sally says:

    Maybe if I was drunk I’d hit it. But sober? No chance.

  11. Chrissy says:

    Off topic but I like the photo above where everyone is wearing masks. Unlike their dumbass President.

  12. Case says:

    I don’t buy that it wasn’t a hate crime. No one noticed a noose since last year? That would be an alarming sight.

    • 10KTurtle says:

      And the only black driver just *happened* to get the garage with the noose? Sure, Nascar Jan.

  13. Aang says:

    Who many tons of fossil fuels does NASCAR burn every year? Seems like a “sport” that needs to go.

    • Sunday says:

      nascar is actually more green than you’d think. they do carbon offset tree planting programs, they use a lot of solar energy and encourage recycling at events, they recycle tires, car parts and some fuels, they use a biofuel blend that reduces their emissions somewhat, etc.

      I’m NOT caping for nascar by any means, but I do think they’ve shown they have some surprisingly progressive leadership and are making strides for the better. If they can show such strong support for the Black Lives Matter movement and Bubba Wallace then I think they deserve a chance to lead on change in sustainability as well. I mean, think of what an incredible, real-time marketing asset it would be to have nascar really spearheading the call for (and maybe even development of) new power source innovations in front of their HUGE global audience, and showing them that eco-friendly cars can be cool, too.

      Anyway, at least they seem to actively want to move towards a progressive, inclusive future, so I’ll take that over the pathetic, set-in-the-70s non-action of the nfl or mlb any day.

  14. Sunday says:

    Just because the noose was already in the stall does not mean that this was not a hate crime. Who decorates with a freaking noose? What was the purpose of having the noose in the stall? I can’t help but think of lynchings/draggings behind vehicles (which have occurred historically) and the fact that this is a racecar stall. I’m not saying they participated in anything that violent, just that the noose (to me) is clearly a “fun decorative nod!” to this. Like a twisted, racist Applebee’s. So, who assigned Wallace that stall, and did they know about the noose or not? Intentionally putting him in the room with the noose is just as bad as putting a noose in his stall.

    Combined with nascar’s notorious confederate support in the stands, it seems obvious that some of those sentiments lie within the people inside the organization as well. As a whole I applaud the steps that nascar has taken recently, and as many have pointed out, they’ve shown more support to Bubba Wallace in the last few weeks than the nfl has shown Colin Kaepernick, well, ever. Nascar has shown themselves to be very pr savvy with their recent statements, so it seems unlikely to me that they’d go prematurely public with a wild assumption. It seems more likely that they immediately recognized it for what it was, saw that what had happened had come from within their organization, and made a strong, decisive and progressive statement. I think there’s a big divide between nascar management’s inclusive future vision for the company and the real attitudes of most of the drivers and fans on the ground.

    Very best case scenario, if it really was an accident and Bubba accidentally found himself in the stall of someone who thought it appropriate to decorate with a representation of violence that contextually (aka with the car, nascar’s tangential approval/support of/from confederate sympathizers, etc.) is explicitly racist just shows that everyone was just fine with all those implied associations before… and then Bubba showed up. Nascar has a lot of work left to do if they truly want their events to be more inclusive, and some of that focus on change has to be directed to the drivers and crews that Bubba is surrounded by at work.

    • Dutch says:

      As I said upthread, tracks host Trunk or Treat events annually. It Could have been tied as some kind of Halloween decoration and forgotten when everything was taken down.

      • Sunday says:

        I suppose it could have been a leftover Halloween decoration, the only one left over, that just happened to be left in the stall that just happened to be assigned to the only black driver in the league, in a manner that was obvious enough for people to take notice of immediately in this instance, but that was not obvious enough for anyone to have put it away or thrown it out at any point during the 6+ months that have passed since Halloween.

        I’m not saying it’s not possible but wow that’d be an uncanny coincidence, and I just don’t buy it.

      • Dutch says:

        But it’s not a decoration per se. At this track, the garage stalls have doors and those doors have cords that are used as pulls to open and close the doors. Someone tied that cord into a noose around October last year and didn’t think to untie it later. I’ve put on community events at places like that in my life and you are expected to work miracles with zero budget, so you have to repurpose what is already there. So it’s possible to make the entrance of their garage haunted house look spookier, someone tied a noose at the end of a pull cord. It’s equally possible some bored crew member or security guard were trying to show of their knot tying skills. Those stalls probably haven’t been used since last October thanks to COVID, so I can see how it could go unnoticed for this long primarily because there was no one there to notice it until last weekend.

    • Oddsnends says:

      It’s a garage door pull. Not decor. I’ve had one in every garage. In my younger years it was because the door would only open/ close manually. Later it was manual backup for an electronic door. They don’t use slip knots, more common in hangings, but a style that maintains the loop large enough for the hand. My current garage door and one most recent both have plastic handles attached.

      This is neither a hate crime nor a hoax. Just a misunderstanding. Frankly, in these times, I see that as a good thing. Everyone concerned behaved pretty well.

      • Michelle says:

        This! You explained it perfectly. The loop also could have been there for someone to hook the loop to pull down the door, but either way I am glad it was nothing more than this and the situation was resolved.

    • ODIE says:

      It isn’t a decoration. It looks like the garage doors can’t be reached from the ground, so someone added rope to pull the doors down. My storage facility has rope tied to each handle. In that case, it is so you can stand away from the door when opening/closing it. One of the doors swings down so forcefully that I think I would have been decapitated if I were standing under it.

  15. Lucy says:

    I see pictures that someone put together on Twitter (don’t remember where) showing it on the frame of the garage in November 2019 when it was a white driver in the garage space (pic taken from footage of the race when he had to go to the garage for repair). I’m relieved it wasn’t aimed at Bubba, that everyone took it seriously, and that was so much support for Bubba. That said, my husband says he’s reading ppl making up all kinds of crap about it, either blaming Bubba or other insane things. NASCAR has a racist a hole problem, but I’m glad they’re at least taking steps.

    • lucy2 says:

      This. I’m glad there isn’t someone in house targeting and threatening him, and that it was taken seriously and investigated.
      I have to imagine there have been a lot of threats and harassment from “fans” anyway, so I’m glad the community is showing support to him.

  16. anp says:

    Very glad Nascar took it serious and called in the FBI and hope they have the ropes remove from the garages.

  17. Veronica S. says:

    Baffling that it’s been there since 2019 – Halloween decoration maybe? Still in poor taste, but frankly…I’m glad that’s not what it turned out to be. Wallace deserves to be an environment where he doesn’t have to fear the other drivers and staff.

  18. Justme says:

    There are plenty of pictures showing that this type of rope pull is actually on other garages
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8454261/Bubba-Wallace-insists-rope-NASCAR-garage-straight-noose.html

    So it wasn’t just on his garage.
    I think this was just a mistake.

    • ME says:

      I really think this should have been fully investigated before the news media reported on it. Now it all just seems so dumb. It gives racists the chance to say “see you POC think everything is racist when it’s not !”.

      • ClaraBelle says:

        Yes, I believe it was a case of the media jumping on this prematurely, and it was just dumb. I also saw the photos yesterday of other garages having the same kind of pull. I hate to feed the right wing claims about the “fake” media.

  19. TheOriginalMia says:

    The folks calling this a hoax are the same people who don’t see the Confederate flag as an intimidating and triggering symbol of hate. Of course, they don’t see that the presence of a noose would be interpreted as intimidating and triggering. To them it’s a door pull. To Bubba and countless other blacks, it’s a sign of hate and death.

  20. Anna says:

    Yeah, this is b.s. and the FBI is no better than any of the supposed legal channels that routinely find not guilty for the police force for violence and brutality against Black people. Their job is to protect the government, not the people. Not buying one bit of any of this nonsense. Black folks know better and we have for centuries of this b.s. And also, NASCAR doesn’t get any cookies for doing the right thing. They know their base and didn’t do shit about it until Black people had to yet again rise up and demand change, slow-going but happening in small bits. And of course NASCAR is happy to acquiesce: they know their business will be decimated if they don’t “do the right thing”, even with a largely racist white-wing (I was trying to type right-wing but this fits) audience.
    So yeah, I call b.s. on this whole thing. My heart aches for all of the firsts and onlys amongst us Black folk…It f-ing sucks and no amount of business-based backtracking can fix that.

  21. Caty Page says:

    If you want to ENCOURAGE reflective corporate behavior, vote with your wallet!

    BUY BUBBA GEAR to encourage NASCAR to keep becoming inclusive.

    Bubba Wallace gear from the offical NASCAR store is pretty cheap and shockingly cute! I have a glitter vneck tshirt with his name and everyone asks me where I got it. Hipsters can even wear it ironically.

    They have SUCH cheap merch, like keychains and can holders. Be in on the trend before it’s cool!

  22. Christine says:

    I believe NASCAR took it so seriously because none of the other garages had a pull like that. Not to mention another racetrack found a noose hanging from a tree on its property. I don’t think it’s out of left field for them to think this could’ve been a racist statement. “Fans” have been mad at NASCAR for years and the reaction of banning of them wearing the confederate flag (NASCAR actually banned teams/tracks from displaying it a few years ago after Dylan Roof) proved that NASCAR’s image overhaul has been for the greater good. “Fans” were perfectly fine with a lower level team driving a Trump car but BLM car is too radical?? Please.