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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Hate crime against Nascar’s Bubba Wallace demands justice

Cancel the race if that's what it takes. And who really cares about a race now?
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Bubba Wallace

Bubba Wallace stands for the national anthem before a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, June 14, 2020, in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)AP

Bring in the feds and the yellow tape.

Shut the place down.

Cancel the race if that’s what it takes. And who really cares about a race now? A crime was allegedly committed at Talladega Superspeedway. A man’s life was apparently threatened by hanging because he is black and outspoken. Swift justice is the only path forward.

A noose in a garage? A ******* noose?! Please let this be some kind of mistake.

Was it right there next to the wrenches and motor oil and good ol’ pats on the back?

Why have a Cup Series at all? Who would want to associate themselves with such a breeding ground of hate?

A belly-dragging coward left a noose for Nascar driver Bubba Wallace on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, according to Nascar, in an apparent act of domestic terrorism that will live in infamy for as long as they race stock cars around oval tracks in this country.

And who knows how long that’s going to be at this point.

The noose was left inside Wallace’s garage area late on Sunday afternoon, according to Nascar, but the entire infield was shut down to fans all day because of COVID-19 protocols. The GEICO 500 was canceled due to rain around 4:15 p.m., and rescheduled for 2 p.m. on Monday. Was this an inside job by someone associated with Nascar or the Talladega Superspeedway?

In a statement, Nascar said it has launched an investigation, and not one wheel should roll until there are answers.

A statement is not enough to wipe this away, but here is what Nascar said late Sunday night:

“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. We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport. As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.”

Give Nascar no credit or PR points for getting ahead of this news before it was leaked to reporters. There are laws against businesses covering up hate crimes in this country, and Wallace is one of the most recognizable athletes of this summer’s Black Lives Matter movement.

GOODMAN: Nascar cannot be allowed to whitewash history so easily

Born in Mobile, Wallace is the first black driver with a full-time ride in the Cup Series since 1971. He’s the driver for Richard Petty’s iconic 43 team, and is a popular figure in the sport. He wore a shirt featuring the words “I can’t breathe” on June 7 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in a protest against police brutality, and has been a target of racism ever since he spoke out against Nascar’s reluctance to officially ban the Confederate flag from events.

He called for Nascar to ban the flag two weeks ago, and it finally did.

And then Talladega came around on the schedule. We all knew the ban was going to be a problem here.

Confederate flags were featured prominently across the street from the track beginning early in the morning. They flew from trucks and cars. An airplane pulled an enormous Confederate flag around the track in protest. Behind the flag, the words “DEFUND NASCAR” flapped in the breeze.

Sunday was a sad day for Alabama before the noose. Now it is infamous for a state that has a long history of racism perpetuated by acts of domestic terrorism and hate crimes. Even our sports are not immune.

An entire state should be disgusted. This stain on Talladega will linger for years.

Someone, please, try telling me again how it’s all about “heritage and not hate.” Be prepared to be slapped upside the head when you do.

GOODMAN: Political trade-off by Tommy Tuberville harmful to state

The Confederate flag is a symbol of racism in America, and it has been associated with Nascar for decades. This is the blowback for all those years of “culture.” Nascar wrapped itself in the Confederate flag in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and Talladega Superspeedway used to be a sea of Stars and Bars on race weekends.

Now it’s awash with hate and drowning in shame.

Nascar’s reckoning is here, and I want so badly for this sport to come out of this stronger for its struggle, but right now justice and protection for Bubba Wallace is more important than any race.

Joseph Goodman is a columnist for the Alabama Media Group. He’s on Twitter @JoeGoodmanJr.

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