WASHINGTON – A U.S. Coast Guard member assigned to hurricane duty has been removed after being caught on television making a gesture that some viewers alleged was a white power symbol.
“We are aware of the offensive video on Twitter — the Coast Guard has identified the member and removed him from the response,” the U.S. Coast Guard said on its official Twitter account.
“His actions do not reflect those of the United States Coast Guard,” one of the federal agencies responding to Hurricane Florence, which has since weakened to a tropical storm and killed at least 11 people in the southeastern United States.
The incident occurred during an interview on MSNBC with a Coast Guard member discussing Florence.
In the background sat another member, with short hair, who turned toward the camera and moved his right hand alongside his head. His thumb and index finger approached each other while the other fingers were upright.
Well, that was about as subtle as a train wreck, on a boat.
— Michael Ⓜ️ (@michaelschweitz) September 14, 2018
Twitter users including Jann Gobble, a computer programmer, interpreted it as a racist message.
“Did you all see this guy flash White Power on TV?” Gobble wrote, calling for an investigation.
Racial tensions have intensified in the United States since President Donald Trump assumed office early last year.