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FBI finds black NASCAR driver not targeted by hate crime in ‘noose’ incident

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The FBI completes its investigation in the NASCAR ‘noose’ incident. AFP

Los Angeles, United States (AFP) – The noose found in the garage stall of NASCAR’s only black driver Bubba Wallace was not evidence of a racist hate crime but a rope that had been there for months, US investigators said Tuesday.

“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 after outrage erupted over the incident, at a time when protests against racial injustice are sweeping the United States.

The probe found the garage door pull-rope fashioned like a noose was in the stall long before Sunday’s race at Talladega in Alabama.

“The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week,” Northern District of Alabama Attorney Jay Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr said in a statement announcing there would be no charges.

“The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019.

“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 FBI investigation, which included 15 agents sifting through evidence and conducting interviews, was launched on Monday, a day after the noose was found.

Wood Brothers Racing, who had a car in that garage for a race last autumn, cooperated in the investigation, saying in a statement on Twitter that one of their employees had seen the rope there.

“We immediately alerted NASCAR and have assisted in the investigation in every way possible,” the team said.

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