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This Is a 'Defining Moment' for NASCAR

FBI investigating noose found in Bubba Wallace's stall
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2020 1:02 PM CDT

(Newser) – The FBI is now investigating the discovery of a noose in the stall of NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace Sunday. US Attorney Jay Town said Monday that the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is also reviewing the Alabama incident, which NASCAR described as a "heinous act," the Charlotte Observer reports. Wallace—the sport's only full-time African-American driver—successfully pushed for a ban on Confederate flags at NASCAR tracks. NASCAR promised an immediate investigation after the noose was found in Wallace's stall at the Talladega Superspeedway. The infield was closed to fans all day, leading to suspicions that the suspect is somebody associated with NASCAR or the track. The noose was found after Sunday's race was postponed by rain. More:

  • A 'defining moment.' NASCAR "can’t move past this nightmare just by finding the racist possibly in its ranks and throwing that person overboard," Jerry Brewer writes at the Washington Post. He says that to show the sport has changed, "every team and every person associated with NASCAR" has to forcefully support Wallace. "The noose in Wallace’s garage stall should be viewed as an attempt to terrorize the whole sport," he writes. "For NASCAR, the response will be a defining moment in its long, slow transformation.

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  • Alabama 'should be disgusted.' The "entire state should be disgusted" and justice should be swift, writes Joseph Goodman at AL.com. He notes that Confederate flags flew from vehicles across the street from the track Sunday, and a plane flew overhead with the flag and the message "Defund NASCAR." Sunday "was a sad day for Alabama before the noose," Goodman writes. "Now it is infamous for a state that has a long history of racism perpetuated by acts of domestic terrorism and hate crimes."
  • Governor speaks out. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she was "shocked and "appalled" by the "vile act," the AP reports. "There is no place for this disgusting display of hatred in our state," she said. "Bubba Wallace is one of us; he is a native of Mobile and on behalf of all Alabamians, I apologize to Bubba Wallace as well as to his family and friends for the hurt this has caused and regret the mark this leaves on our state."
  • Athletes speak out. Fellow NASCAR drivers and athletes from other sports condemned the incident, BuzzFeed reports. "I'm right here with you as well as every other athlete," LeBron James said. "I just want to continue to say how proud I am of you for continuing to take a stand for change here in America and sports!"
  • 'I hope you are so ashamed.' ESPN's Marty Smith, who had been covering the race Sunday, strongly condemned the "despicable" act at his favorite track, Sports Illustrated reports. He said the perpetrator should be ashamed. "You’re not just hurting one or two people, whomever you are," he said. "You’re hurting a whole lot of people who made the decision that it’s damn sure time to go be better."
  • Richard Petty is 'enraged.' Richard Petty, the 82-year-old NASCAR legend who own's Wallace's No. 43, said he is "enraged by the act of someone placing a noose in the garage stall of my race team" and is heading to Talladega to support the driver. "This filthy act serves as a reminder of how far we still have to go to eradicate racial prejudice and it galvanizes my resolve to use the resources of Richard Petty Motorsports to create change," he said in a statement, per the AP. "I stand shoulder to shoulder with Bubba, yesterday, today, tomorrow, and every day forward."
(Read more NASCAR stories.)

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