The Department of Justice is launching an investigation after a noose was left in the garage of NASCAR star Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in the sport’s elite Cup Series. Wallace said on Twitter the incident was a “despicable act of racism and hatred."
"The U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Alabama, FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division are reviewing the situation surrounding the noose that was found in Bubba Wallace's garage to determine whether there are violations of federal law," US Attorney Jay E. Town said in statement. "Regardless of whether federal charges can be brought, this type of action has no place in our society."
The statement comes just one day after NASCAR announced it will launch its own investigation. "We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act," NASCAR's statement read. "We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport."
Many of Wallace's fellow drivers have come out in support of him and condemned the incident, including driver Tyler Reddick, who tweeted, "Our unity will flush out the hate," and Ryan Blaney, who said, "You’re my brother and always will be. Don’t let the people who are lower than life to try and bring you down. They won’t scare you because you’re strong. I stand with you pal. Forever."
Wallace has been outspoken about the Black Lives Matter movement wearing a shirt that read “I Can’t Breathe” before one event, painting his car with the words “Black Lives Matter,” and calling on NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag before they agreed to do so earlier this month, CNN reported.
The ban, however, also sparked controversy, as Ray Ciccarelli came under fire for his passionate stance against the new rules.
In a since-deleted Facebook post, Ciccarelli wrote: “Well, it’s been a fun ride and dream come true but if this is the direction NASCAR is headed, we will not participate after 2020 season is over. I don’t believe in kneeling during Anthem nor taken ppl right to fly what ever flag they love.
“I could care less about the Confederate Flag, but there are ppl that do and it doesn’t make them a racist all you are doing is (expletive) one group to cater to another and i ain’t spend the money we are to participate in any political BS!! So everything is for SALE!!”
He later said he wasn't supporting the Confederate flag, and that whether he would quit NASCAR was "TBA."