- After a noose was found in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s team garage stall, the FBI concluded that it was being used as a door pull rope and had been there since last October, before Wallace began using that garage.
- After news of the FBI’s findings was released to the public, claims that Wallace had committed a Jussie Smollett-style hoax began to trend on social media.
- However, Wallace never saw the noose outside of investigation photos and wasn’t the person who found or reported it.
- “Whether tied in 2019, or whatever, it was a noose,” Wallace said on Tuesday.
- NASCAR has also indicated that it will continue its investigation to determine why that noose was acting as a garage pull in the first place.
FBI Determines Noose Was A Door Pull
Two days after an apparent noose was found in the team garage stall of NASCAR driver Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has concluded that no one committed a hate crime against him.
According to the agency, the noose was a garage door rope pull that had been there since October 2019; however, Wallace’s team didn’t begin using that garage until last week. Because of that, the FBI also determined that “nobody could have known” that Wallace’s team would be assigned to that stall.
Following on the heels of the FBI’s report, NASCAR issued a statement saying that the rope pull that was being used had been “fashioned like a noose.”
That noose-shaped rope pull was found Sunday by a member of Wallace’s No. 43 team. Notably, Wallace never saw that noose or rope pull outside of photos from the investigation. In fact, drivers aren’t even allowed in their garages right now in order to properly social distance from their teams.
The incident, as well as its timing, led to massive public outcry Sunday evening. Part of that is because of the ongoing protests over racial injustice, but another part was because of a protest happening outside Sunday’s planned race at the Talladega SuperSpeedway in Alabama.
That race was the first NASCAR event since the coronavirus shutdown that fans were able to attend. Prior to that, Wallace—who’s the only black driver for NASCAR’s top series—pushed to have NASCAR ban the display of the Confederate Flag from events. On June 10, it agreed and prohibited fans from displaying the symbol within its stadiums.
While fans largely followed that rule on Sunday, outside of the stadium, hundreds of people protested and waved that flag.
Soon after that came the reports of that noose being found in Wallace’s garage stall. From there, NASCAR and the FBI in conjunction with the Justice Department launched separate investigations.
“We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba,” NASCAR said in its statement Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, NASCAR President Steve Phelps echoed that statement, saying:
“For us at NASCAR, this is the best result we could hope for. It was disturbing to hear it was thought that one of our own had committed this heinous act. It is fantastic to hear from the FBI definitively that there was not a hate crime.”
Phelps added that NASCAR plans to continue its investigation, with that probe focusing on why the rope was fashioned into a noose and why it was even in that garage stall in the first place.
Phelps also told reporters that even with the information now known, NASCAR took the proper steps in handling the situation.
“I want to be clear about the 43 team,” he said. The 43 team had nothing to do with this. The evidence is very clear that the noose that was in that garage had been in the garage previously. The last race we had had there in October, that noose was present.”
“The fact that it was not found until a member of the 43 team came there is something that is a fact,” he added. The crew member went back in there. He looked and saw the noose, brought it to the attention of his crew chief, who then went to the NASCAR series director, Jay Fabian, and we launched this investigation.”
#BubbaSmollett and Hoax Accusations
Despite Phelp’s firm assurance that no foul play was involved from Wallace or his team, others have compared Wallace to actor Jussie Smollet, who was charged with six counts of falsifying police reports after an alleged hate crime against him last year.
Tuesday night, after the FBI finding became public, #BubbaSmollett trended on Twitter. There, many floated the theory that the noose was a hoax, implying that Wallace orchestrated the incident to boost his career.
Others also shared photos and videos of that garage, pointing out what they assumed to be the rope pull in question.
Wallace Defends Himself Against Criticism
In an interview with Don Lemon on CNN Tuesday night, Wallace defended himself against those claiming he was involved in planting the noose.
“I’m pissed,” the driver said. “I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity and they’re not stealing that away from me, but they’re just trying to test that.”
Wallace then went on to add that he was first told about a noose being found in his garage by Phelps, who described the incident to Wallace as a “hate crime.”
Even though the FBI has said that Wallace wasn’t the target of a hate crime, Wallace still asserted that the rope pull in question was a noose.
“Don, the image that I have and that I have seen of what was hanging in my garage is not a garage pull,” Wallace said. “I’ve been racing all my life. We’ve raced out of hundreds of garages that never had garage pulls like that. So People that want to call it a garage-pull, and put out old videos and photos of knots, as their evidence, go ahead. But from the evidence that we have, that I have, it’s a straight-up noose.”
“It was a noose. It was a noose that whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose,” he added. “So it wasn’t directed at me, but somebody tied a noose, that’s what I am saying.”
Drivers and Other Supporters Defend Wallace From Hoax Allegations
Like Phelps, others with NASCAR have continued to support Wallace and the reaction from the association after that noose was found.
“I’m relieved to hear this wasn’t a hate crime and I’m still so proud of how our sport came together yesterday,” driver Jimmie Johnson said on Tuesday.
NASCAR reporter Marty Smith, whose Sunday night response to the noose finding went viral, called the FBI’s conclusion “the best possible news.”
I am so happy for @BubbaWallace & @NASCAR that there was no hate crime, or any ill will,” Smith said on Twitter. “That is wonderful.”
“And the display of unity, togetherness, courage and commitment that I saw Monday from the garage will forever be one of the most beautiful moments of solidarity I’ve witnessed. Brothers caring for brothers.”
Others like IndyCar Driver JR Hildebrand directly called out people comparing Wallace to Jussie Smollett.
“Quick PSA that I hope will save me from wasting time going HAM in my replies: There are ways to have been skeptical about this situation without being racist or an asshole. Calling Bubba Wallace Jussie Smollett is not one of them.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (ESPN) (Deadspin)
Manhattan City Council Candidate Says He’s “Not Ashamed” After BDSM Video Leaks Online
While many applauded the candidate’s response, others suspect the entire ordeal may have been manufactured for publicity.
BDSM Video Leaks
Zack Weiner, a 26-year-old candidate for Manhattan’s City Council, has caught a flood of attention in recent days after responding to a BDSM video of himself that leaked online.
According to the New York Post, which first reported on the leak Saturday, the video was published by an anonymous Twitter account earlier this month.
“My magnificent domme friend played with Upper West Side city council candidate Zack Weiner and I’m the only one who has the footage,” the tweet reportedly read.
The video was flagged to the Post by Weiner’s campaign manager, Joe Gallagher, the news outlet said. The tabloid also claimed it showed Weiner gagged while “subjecting himself to various abuses by a leather-bound woman who pours wax on him and clips his nipples with clothespins.”
The footage was filmed at Parthenon studio in Midtown, which the Post described as known for its high-quality BDSM dungeons, and Weiner actually confirmed the video’s authenticity to the outlet, saying it was filmed at that location in 2019 with a former girlfriend that he met during a Halloween party.
Weiner Says He’s “Not Ashamed”
Weiner took to Twitter on Saturday to address the private video head on.
“Whoops. I didn’t want anyone to see that, but here we are,” he wrote.
“I am not ashamed of the private video circulating of me on Twitter. This was a recreational activity that I did with my friend at the time, for fun. Like many young people, I have grown into a world where some of our most private moments have been documented online.”
“While a few loud voices on Twitter might chastise me for the video, most people see the video for what it is: a distraction. I trust that voters will choose a city council representative based on their policies and their ability to best serve the community,” he continued.
In his comments to the Post, he added, “I am a proud BDSMer. I like BDSM activity.” He also said he had no idea how the footage surfaced, saying “It’s definitely a violation of trust.”
Praise and Suspicions
Many people online have applauded Weiner for refusing to apologize for private consensual acts. One, for example, tweeted, “Yeah – as long as this was between 2 (or more) consenting adults – I don’t care one bit. If this info ALONE would cause you to vote for somebody else, then I am FAR MORE worried about YOUR participation in Government than his!”
In fact, many have said they would vote for him after learning of the video and slammed critics, as well as the tabloid, for “kink-shaming.”
It’s worth noting that the Post’s article described Weiner as someone who “has mostly been a nonentity in the race for the Upper West Side’s 6th District.” It pointed to the fact that he has no endorsements and that his campaign barely raised $10,000 — most of which allegedly came from himself and his campaign manager.
Because of this, along with Gallagher’s contact with the Post, some have speculated that the entire ordeal may have been some kind of stunt manufactured for publicity.
See what others are saying: (New York Post) (Insider) (HITC)
Supreme Court Rejects Third Challenge to Affordable Care Act
In the 7-2 decision, the justices argued the Republican-led states that brought the challenge forth failed to show how the law caused injury and thus had no legal standing.
SCOTUS Issues Opinion on Individual Mandate
The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the third Republican-led challenge to the Affordable Care Act to ever reach the high court.
The issue at hand was the provision of the law, commonly known as Obamacare, that requires people to either purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty: the so-called individual mandate.
The individual mandate has been one of the most controversial parts of Obamacare and it has already been before SCOTUS, which upheld the provision in 2012 on the grounds that it amounted to a tax and thus fell under Congress’ taxing power.
However, as part of the sweeping 2017 tax bill, the Republican-held Congress set the penalty for not having health care to $0. As a result, a group of Republican-led states headed by Texas sued, arguing that because their GOP colleagues made the mandate zero dollars, it no longer raised revenues and could not be considered a tax, thus making it unconstitutional.
The states also argued that the individual mandate is such a key part of Obamacare that it could not be separated without getting rid of the entire law.
The Supreme Court, however, rejected that argument in a 7-2 decision, with Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissenting.
Majority Opinion Finds No Injury
In the majority decision, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the Republican states had no grounds to sue because they could not show how they were harmed by their own colleagues zeroing out the penalty.
“There is no possible government action that is causally connected to the plaintiffs’ injury — the costs of purchasing health insurance,” he wrote, adding that the states “have not demonstrated that an unenforceable mandate will cause their residents to enroll in valuable benefits programs that they would otherwise forgo.”
Breyer also argued that because of this, the court did not need to decide on the broader issue of whether the 2017 tax bill rendered the individual mandate unconstitutional and if that provision could be separated from the ACA.
The highly anticipated decision will officially keep Obamacare as the law of the land, ensuring that the roughly 20 million people enrolled still have health insurance. While there may be other challenges to the law hard-fought by conservatives, this latest ruling sends a key signal about the limits of the Republican efforts to achieve their agenda through the high court, even with the strong conservative majority.
While the court has now struck down challenges to Obamacare three times, Thursday’s decision marked the largest margin of victory of all three challenges to the ACA.
For now, the ACA appears to be fairly insulated from legal challenges, though it will still likely face more. In a tweet following the SCOTUS decision, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) vowed to keep fighting Obamacare, adding that the individual mandate “was unconstitutional when it was enacted and it is still unconstitutional.”
See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Washington Post) (The Associated Press)
Utah Student With Down Syndrome Left Out of Cheer Squad’s Yearbook Photo
The move marks the second time in three years that Morgyn Arnold has been left out of the school’s yearbook. Two years ago, it failed to include her in the class list.
Two Photos Take, One Without Morgyn Arnold
A Utah school has apologized after a student with Down syndrome at Shoreline Junior High was excluded from her cheerleading squad’s yearbook photo.
The squad took two official team portraits this year. The first included 14-year-old Morgyn Arnold, who had been working as the team manager but attended practices and cheered alongside her other teammates at every home game. The second imsgr did not include her and ended up being the photo the school used across social media and in its yearbook.
Arnold was heartbroken by the decision and her family believed it was made because of her disability.
In social media posts about the move, Arnold’s sister, Jordyn Poll, noted that Arnold “spent hours learning dances, showing up to games, and cheering on her school and friends but was left out.”
“I hope that no one ever has to experience the heartbreak that comes when the person they love comes home from school devastated and shows them that they’re not in the picture with their team,” she continued.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Poll also said this marked the second time in three years that her sister has been left out of the yearbook. Two years ago, the school failed to include her in the class list.
School Apologizes After Backlash
After Poll’s public call out picked up attention, the school said it was “deeply saddened by the mistake.”
“Apologies have been made to the family, and we sincerely apologize to all others impacted by this error,” it added. “We are continuing to look at what has occurred, and to improve our practice.”
The district issued a similar statement, claiming it was looking into why this occurred to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
But Poll said this isn’t the same response her family received when they initially contacted school administrators. Instead, Poll told the Tribune that an employee at the school “blatantly said they didn’t know what we were expecting of them and there was nothing they could do.”
The school has since contacted them again “to make the situation right.”
Meanwhile, Poll stressed that her sister’s teammates had nothing to do with the decision, defending the girls as amazing friends who have done everything to make Arnold feel included.
In fact, they too were disappointed to see that she was not featured in the image or even named as a member of the team in the yearbook.
Arnold’s family decided to speak up about the issue so that this school and others can improve the ways they interact with and include students with disabilities. Different forms of exclusion happen at schools across the country, and this story has prompted other parents of kids with disabilities to share similar experiences.
This kind of thing happens all the time. I can't count the number of times our son has been excluded, or nearly excluded, from events and pictures and related social activities in his 8 years of school. I know this fury.— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) June 16, 2021
A staff attorney at the Disability Law Center of Utah told the Tribune that it receives about 4,000 complaints each year. Some complaints stemmed from students with disabilities being separated into other classrooms without their peers. Others include name-calling or not allowing students on a team or in a club.
Thankfully, Arnold has not let this situation bring her down. According to her family, she has already forgiven everyone involved and plans to continue cheering alongside her friends.