*Bubba Wallace — the only top-tier Black NASCAR driver — is speaking out about his noose controversy from last month.
On June 21, NASCAR notified Wallace, 26, that a noose was found hanging in his garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway.
After an investigation into the incident, the FBI declined to file any federal charges.
According to a statement from U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, the noose had been in the garage since last fall, per USA Today.
Wallace “was not the target of a hate crime,” NASCAR said in a statement.
“There is no place in our sport for this type of racism and hatred,” said NASCAR President Steve Phelps in a press call with media on Tuesday. “It’s not who we are as a sport.”
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There is only 1 driver from an African American background at the top level of our sport..I am the 1. You’re not gonna stop hearing about “the black driver” for years. Embrace it, accept it and enjoy the journey..
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) November 8, 2017
Wallace has since been the target of harsh public criticism. President Trump even called the incident a “hoax” and demanded Bubba apologize for it.
“Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!,” Trump tweeted.
“I knew how it was going to be received. … I’d never even seen the image until Tuesday morning,” Wallace tells PEOPLE of the photo of the noose released by NASCAR. “I’m not even allowed in the garage because of COVID-19, I have strict orders to stay out of the garage. So, I’d never seen it. And so, I knew how it was going to look and that’s the unfortunate side of how people are magically going to take that and place the blame on me.”
This is the noose. Ive never seen one. It ws discovered by a person (not Bubba) Bubba was informed by NASCAR Pres Steve Phelps. Hey @realDonaldTrump have u apologised to Central Park 5 kids? Or Obama? Or families of all who died & will die because of your lies & criminal neglect pic.twitter.com/6Xg04NwzvR
— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) July 6, 2020
Wallace added, “I’m done trying to stand up against them because they’re simple-minded and they’re not going to change in their ways,” he says of the haters. “I’ll continue to help educate others that want to be a part of the change and maybe one day the naysayers will understand the real message that we’re trying to push.”
In the meantime, Wallace says he’s going to “just keep fighting the good fight for me and continue to stand up for what I believe in; it’s probably the most positive thing I can do.”