Two Marines who appear to be in blackface in a now-viral social media video are under investigation by their command, officials said Thursday.
Leaders with the California-based 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing are looking into a Snapchat video posted by Zach Highfield that shows two Marines wearing black face masks and making disparaging racial remarks, according to an official with the command.
The probe comes just days after another command opened an investigation into racist online posts allegedly shared by a Hawaii-based lance corporal.
"Our leaders are committed to maintaining an environment of professionalism, dignity and respect," the official said. "[Third] 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."
The video, which was shared on Twitter over the weekend, shows a lance corporal and a second Marine in utility uniforms. One of them says, "blackface." Then, the lance corporal says, "Good morning, sir," dons a cover and salutes. The second Marine can be heard making a racial slur in response.
On Monday, Highfield told KPBS, a San Diego public television and radio station, that he takes full responsibility for the video, which he called "a bad mistake."
"It looks a lot worse than it is," he told the station. "... We had no intention to offend."
Highfield had already been contacted by his command, he added.
The second Marine in the video has not been identified. Marine officials said it would be inappropriate to comment further on an ongoing investigation.
This is at least the third investigation the Marine Corps has opened in response to allegations of racist comments or actions on social media. In one case, Lance Cpl. Vasillios Pistolis was booted from the service for bragging about his involvement in the deadly 2017 Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Members of Congress are pressing military leaders to stamp out extremist behavior and low-level racism in the ranks. In a letter sent to Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security leaders on Monday, Democratic lawmakers said there must be an end to the behavior that "disrupts unit cohesion, impacts readiness, and degrades the ability of our service members to protect our nation," according to The Washington Post.
"Our hope is that these incidents are isolated events and are not indicative of a larger, systemic issue within the United States Armed Services," the paper reported they wrote.
Democratic politicians in Virginia have been under fire in recent weeks after old photos emerged of them appearing in blackface.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam faced calls of resignation after a decades-old photo from his medical school yearbook appeared to show him in blackface, which he has denied while admitting to darkening his skin on another occasion.
State Attorney General Mark Herring, second in line to replace Northam had he resigned, also admitted to wearing blackface to a party when he was in college.