Alabama Gov. Issues Statement in Response to NASCAR Noose Incident, Authorities to Investigate

"There is no place for this disgusting display of hatred in our state," Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey is speaking out after a noose was found in the garage of NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace.

On Monday, Ivey, 75, issued a statement about the "display of hatred" in her state and apologized to Wallace — who is the only black driver on the circuit — for the "hurt this has caused."

The noose — a racially charged symbol of lynchings — was discovered by one of Wallace's team members in his garage at the Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, hours after the race was postponed on Sunday, but wasn't seen by Wallace himself, according to ESPN.

"I am shocked and appalled to hear of yesterday’s vile act against Bubba Wallace in Talladega - there is no place for this disgusting display of hatred in our state," Ivey said. "Racism and threats of this nature will not be condoned nor tolerated, and I commit to assisting in any way possible to ensure that the person responsible for this is caught and punished."

"While the important conversation of racial reconciliation is ongoing all over our country, it is clear there is much work to do," Ivey continued. "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."

"I ask the NASCAR family to rally around Bubba and his team as they compete today and I know that there are more people who are wishing him well today than ever before," Ivey finished.

Kay Ivey, Bubba Wallace
Kay Ivey and Bubba Wallace. Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty; Matt Sullivan/Getty

In the wake of the disturbing discovery, the U.S. Justice Department confirmed on Monday that the FBI was investigating the incident, though it was unclear if it would lead to a prosecution, according to The New York Times.

Jay E. Town, the United States attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, told the Times that they determining "whether there are violations of federal law," and noted, "regardless of whether federal charges can be brought, this type of action has no place in our society."

Meanwhile, many others rushed to support Wallace in the wake of the incident, including NBA star LeBron James and former NASCAR driver Richard Petty, who owns the No. 43 Chevrolet that Wallace drives.

Petty, 82, announced on Twitter Monday that he would be attending Wallace's postponed race and expressed his anger over the recent incident. According to ESPN, it marks the first time that Petty will attend a live race since NASCAR was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm enraged by the act of someone placing a noose in the garage stall of my race team," Petty wrote in a statement on Twitter. "There is absolutely no place in our sport or society for racism."

"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. The sick person who perpetrated this act must be found, exposed, and swiftly and immediately expelled from NASCAR."

He finished by stating, "I stand shoulder to shoulder with Bubba, yesterday, today, tomorrow, and every day forward."

Earlier this month, Wallace, 26, raised awareness for Black Lives Matter during the NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. He was the first full-time black driver to race in the Cup Series in nearly 50 years.

For the race, Wallace's car was painted all black and featured the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag along its rear quarter-panels. The words "compassion, love, understanding" appeared on the hood along with a painting of a black hand clasping a white hand.

bubba wallace
Bubba Wallace. Chris Graythen/Getty

Wallace also spoke out and pushed for the banning of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events, which the organization promptly did.

However, on Sunday, fans continued to wave and fly Confederate flags outside the speedway and even organized for a plane to fly over the track with a banner that read, "Defund NASCAR," ESPN reported.

Following the noose discovery, Wallace issued a statement about the "despicable act of racism and hatred," writing that the incident "leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism."

"Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate. As my mother told me today, 'They are just trying to scare you,'" he added. "This will not break me, I will not give in, nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in."

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