A Navy seaman assigned to the carrier USS George H.W. Bush has been disciplined and counseled by his unit after officials determined he staged the vandalism of his own bunk with racist graffiti and then posted about it on Facebook.
Naval Criminal Investigative Service and command officials have been investigating the claim that the sailor was targeted because of his race ever since he posted photos on Facebook on Nov. 15. The investigation wrapped up a few days ago, Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman Cmdr. Dave Hecht told Military.com.
"After a thorough investigation was conducted with the assistance of NCIS, several indicators supported the conclusion that the incident was staged," Hecht said, adding there were inconsistencies in the alleged victim's statements.
Navy Times, which first reported on the matter, identified the sailor as 27-year-old Marquie Little, an African-American. Photos published in Little's Facebook post, which has since been deleted, show a pillow ripped open and pieces of corrugated cardboard and other garbage stacked in Little's rack aboard the Bush. The N-word appears to be written on the wall of the bunk in black marker.
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"I proudly serve the Navy and this is what I'm receiving in return," Little wrote in the post, according to the Navy Times report. The report stated that Little stood by his story even after the Navy determined he had done the damage himself, saying he had nothing to gain by staging a racist incident.
While Little was disciplined and required to complete additional training as a result of the incident, Hecht said he will continue to serve at his unit and perform his assigned military duties.
Unit leadership are using the incident as a learning opportunity.
"The chain of command has used the incident to provide additional training to the crew and reemphasize that vandalism and racism will not be tolerated," he said. "It has also been reiterated to the ship that the chain of command has an open door policy for reporting incidents of misconduct."
Hecht added that the Navy does not tolerate racial discrimination of any kind, and the wellbeing of sailors is the service's top priority.
The incident closely mirrors an episode that unfolded at the U.S. Air Force Academy earlier this fall. Five cadets reported that they found racist graffiti on their dorm room message boards, sparking a schoolwide investigation. Ultimately, the academy announced in November that it had determined one of the alleged victims had written the racist messages. The cadet was subject to discipline and made to leave the school.