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Marines Investigate Blackface Incident Circulating On Social Media

Video from Twitter shows two Marines posing in uniform with blackface in this...

Above: Video from Twitter shows two Marines posing in uniform with blackface in this undated screenshot.

The Third Marine Air Wing, based at Miramar Air Station, is investigating two Marines who posed in blackface while in uniform after the post began spreading on social media since last week.

The post shows two Marines in their utilities. One of the Marines said the word “blackface” then uses a racist expression often used to describe African Americans. The two Marines then put on their caps and salute.

Zach Highfield, who appears in the video, originally posted it on Snapchat. Last week the video was posted on Twitter, where commenters have called for the Marines to be disciplined and discharged from the Corps.

“We are aware of the post. An investigation has been initiated to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the content," said Maj. Josef Patterson, spokesman for 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in a written statement issued Monday.

“Our leaders are committed to maintaining an environment of professionalism, dignity, and respect. 3rd MAW takes all allegations of discriminatory behavior very seriously as they stand in stark contrast of our core values of honor, courage, and commitment and do not reflect the discipline and professionalism of the Marines and Sailors of 3rd MAW.”

Highfield spoke briefly when contacted by KPBS at a number listed on his Instagram account. Highfield said the blackface is made of charcoal masks, used to clean pores.

“It looks a lot worse than it is,” said Highfield, adding that he didn’t mean to post the images.

“It was a bad mistake,” he said. “We had no intention to offend.”

He said he takes full responsibility.

Highfield also acknowledged that he has been contacted by his command. The second Marine in the video has not been identified.

Third Marine Air Wing would not release further details about the incident, including where the Marines are stationed, citing an ongoing investigation.

The images appear to show San Diego area Marines posing in blackface and using a racial slur. One of the Marines says the incident is overblown.

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Steve Walsh
Military Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover military and veterans issues for KPBS and American Homefront, a partnership of public radio stations and NPR. I cover issues ranging from delpoying troops along the California border to efforts to lower suicide rates among veterans.

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