NASCAR Driver Suspended for Liking ‘Insensitive’ George Floyd Meme

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NASCAR driver Noah Gragson has been suspended indefinitely after he “liked” a meme on Instagram on Saturday that made light of the death of George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis while in police custody on Memorial Day 2020.

Legacy Motor Club announced Tuesday that it would replace Gragson, 25, in the seat of its No. 42 race car with driver Mike Rockenfeller, 39. The Athletic, a sports website, reported Tuesday that sources “close to the decision” said the Legacy team would part ways with Gragson.

The meme at issue featured an image of Floyd’s head on a picture of Sebastian, the talking and singing crab of “The Little Mermaid” fame. 

The caption, “UNDER DA KNEE,” alluded to both Sebastian’s signature song and the nature of Floyd’s death after a white police officer put his knee on the black man’s neck for over 9 minutes as Floyd lay on the pavement.

Photo: Instagram

Gragson was set to drive this weekend for Legacy Motor Club in NASCAR’s Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich.

Legacy Motor Club issued a statement on Twitter saying that Gragson’s actions “do not represent the values of [the] team.” 

NASCAR retweeted Legacy Motor Club’s statement Saturday and issued its own in support of Legacy’s decision to suspend Gragson indefinitely.

The Member Conduct section of the 2023 NASCAR Rule Book states that member activity that could result in a fine or indefinite suspension includes a:

statement and/or communication made public (including social media platforms) that demeans, criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition.

Gragson apologized Saturday via Twitter, expressing disappointment in what he called his “lack of attention and actions on social media.”

It’s not clear exactly when Gragson “liked” the meme and how it was flagged. The Daily Signal sought comment from other members of Gragson’s team to get his recollection of the events, but none had responded by publication time. 

Disgruntled employees took a similar dispute over social media “likes” to court after being fired by the Sheriff’s Office in  Hampton, Virginia, for “liking” Facebook posts by their boss’s opponent in an upcoming election.

In that case, Bland v. Roberts, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held in 2013 that “likes” on social media are a  constitutionally protected form of free speech.

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The post NASCAR Driver Suspended for Liking ‘Insensitive’ George Floyd Meme appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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