TALLADEGA, Alabama (AP). – A noose with a hanging knot was found Sunday in the garage of black driver Bubba Wallace at the NASCAR race in Alabama, less than two weeks after the driver managed to convince the competition to ban the Confederate flag from its circuits and facilities in the context of protests in the United States over the death of the black man George Floyd by a police officer.
NASCAR announced the event on Sunday night and said it had launched an investigation immediately. He added that he would do everything possible to find those responsible and “eliminate them from sport.”
“We are angry and outraged, and we cannot say firmly enough how seriously we take this infamous act,” the series stated in a statement. “As we have stated unambiguously, there is no room for racism in NASCAR, and this fact only reinforces our resolve to make this sport open and hospitable to everyone.”
Wallace is the only black pilot Full-time in the Cup Series, NASCAR's top division.
"The despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much we have left as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism" wrote the pilot on Twitter.
"As my mother told me today, 'They're just trying to scare you,'" he added. . “This will not end me, I will not give in or give up. I will continue to proudly defend what I believe in. ”.
The rope was found the same day that the new flag ban faced its greatest challenge. The rule went into effect before last week's race near Miami, but that day there were only about 1,000 military personnel in the stands. The Confederate flag symbolizes slavery and racism for millions of people in the United States.
In Talladega, in the heart of the southern United States, up to 5,000 fans were allowed entry, although the rain postponed the race until today, Monday. At first there were no reports on whether flags had been confiscated or removed on the circuit, but the flag was present not far away.
On Saturday and Sunday there were informal protests in which cars and trucks passed by nearby roads waving the flag and passing before the circuit. A small plane flew over the area with a flag bearing the flag and the words "Withdraw funding for NASCAR."
Alabama-born Wallace, 26, pilots number 43 for the Richard Petty Motorsports team. He said he found support among his peers for his stance against the flag, something he noted in his tweet on Sunday night.
NASCAR had spent years trying to distance itself from the Confederate flag, rooted in the series since its founding more than 70 years ago. Brian France, the former president of NASCAR, tried to veto the use of the flag at racetracks in 2015, a proposal that was not enforced and went unnoticed.
This year has been different, with Wallace taking the lead. month, with the country shocked by protests related to the death of George Floyd, Wallace wore a black T-shirt with the words "I Can't Breathe" in one race and stamped the phrase #BlackLivesMatter in another.
Wallace, guinea pig or father is white, he did not always openly express himself about racism. Even after Floyd's death last month after being arrested by police in Minneapolis, he was not the first pilot to speak out in favor of racial equality. He said what motivated him to talk about racism was watching the video of Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot to death in Georgia. Now recognize that you should not waste your platform as a renowned NASCAR driver.
NBA star LeBron James tweeted his support for Wallace, calling him "sickly" the gallows knot.
“That you know that you are not alone! I am with you, as well as all the other athletes "wrote James.