Two Marines stationed near San Diego are being investigated after posting a video that appears to show them in blackface.
In the footage, two men in uniform can be seen wearing black masks. One man says the word “blackface,” followed by “Hello, monkey,” and the other appears to salute the camera.
Zach Highfield, who appears in the video, told local station KPBS that he and the other Marine, who has not been identified, were wearing charcoal sheet masks used to clean pores.
“It looks a lot worse than it is,” Highfield told the station, adding that he made a “mistake.”
“It was a bad mistake,” he said. “We had no intention to offend.”
The video has since gone viral on various platforms, with many saying the Marines should be kicked out of the military.
“It seems as though, whether it’s military or someone in the community or working for a company, they should have learned by now that this is unacceptable,” local church pastor Bishop Cornelius Bowser told San Diego station KGTV.
“We pay our tax dollars for them to protect and serve our country, and this is not it, right there, that kind of display, that kind of character should not be allowed.”
A spokesperson for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, to which the two Marines belong, told local station KNSD that USMC officials are aware of the post and are investigating the incident “to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the content.”
1st Lt. Fredrick D. Walker, a spokesman for the aviation unit, released the following statement: “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.”