The United States Marine Corps is reportedly investigating a viral video that seems to show two Marines, in uniform, wearing blackface and expressing a racial slur.
In the video, originally posted on Snapchat and then reposted on Twitter, two young white Marines, in apparent blackface, salute the camera, and then one says, “Hello, monkey.”
One of the Marines in the video told KPBS that they were wearing black charcoal face masks, and that the video was a “bad mistake.” The two are reportedly with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing based at MCAS Miramar in San Diego.
“We are aware of the post,” Maj. Josef Patterson, spokesman for 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, said in a written statement issued earlier this week. “An investigation has been initiated to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the content.”
The incident comes amid a rash of bad press for the Marine Corps. Earlier this week, Marine officials confirmed they were investigating anti-Semitic and racist social media posts allegedly linked to a Marine based in Hawaii. According to screenshots shared by Marine veteran Ed Beck, fellow Marine Mason Edward Mead was a recent convert to the Catholic Society of St. Pius X, a far-right group founded by a Nazi sympathizer in the 1970s.
And last week, federal prosecutors said that Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Hasson, a former Marine, was stockpiling weapons and plotting “focused violence” to establish “a white homeland. The fact that Hasson had reportedly espoused white supremacist views for decades raised questions about why he was able to spend 30 years in the military without issue. The case has called into question the efficacy of the military’s policies which were introduced in the 1980s and designed to stamp out white supremacy from active-duty ranks.
Hasson was initially facing charges linked to his alleged Tramadol habit. On Wednesday, federal prosecutors filed additional charges for unlawful possession of gun silencers (they did not have serial numbers, as is required by law).
On Monday, House Democrats wrote a letter to the military demanding answers about what they were doing proactively to screen recruits and monitor active-duty service members for signs of extremism or racism.
“The Marine Corps is clear on this: There is no place for racial hatred or extremism in the Marine Corps,” Maj. Brian Block, a Marine Corps spokesperson, wrote in an email to VICE News. “Bigotry and racial extremism run contrary to our core values.”
Block added that the Marine Corps take allegations of misconduct very seriously, and stressed that commanders and Marines have responsibility to bring evidence or allegations of racism or extremism to their chain of command.
Cover: Marines from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton walk onto the field during a pregame ceremony before the San Diego Padres take on the Kansas City Royals in a baseball game Sunday, June 11, 2017, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)