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Bubba Wallace, the NASCAR driver whose call to remove the Confederate flag from NASCAR spurred the racing series to ban it from its races and properties, was the subject of a threat of a hate crime at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama, on Sunday.
According to NASCAR, a noose was found in Wallace’s garage.
“Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team. We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act,” NASCAR said in a statement.
NASCAR responded decisively and said that it would conduct an investigation and ban the people responsible.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 22, 2020
Wallace, who drives the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro for Petty Motorsports, responded to the incident on Twitter by saying he is saddened by the incident, but has received support in the weeks since his protest and said he won’t back down.
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) June 22, 2020
The noose is a symbol of the lynching of Black people, a practice that killed 3,446 Black people from 1892 to 1968, according to the NAACP.
Shortly before the race, a plane flew over the track towing a Confederate flag and a banner that read “Defund NASCAR.” According to the Washington Post, a small protest was held outside the track with about two dozen people in trucks carrying Confederate flags. There were no reports of Confederate flags on track grounds. The “Defund NASCAR” banner was a take-off on the “Defund the Police” slogan used by many protesters after the death of George Floyd on May 25.
Wallace, who is NASCAR’s only Black driver and an Alabama native, spoke out June 10 when he called on NASCAR to remove the Confederate flag from its events, then drove a car with the #BlackLivesMatter livery in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville.