Sgt. Michael Chesny and Staff Sgt. Joseph Manning were arrested in North Carolina at “Confederate Memorial Day," a celebration created by an organization in the wake of opposition to a local mosque, according to The Daily Beast. The two were arrested for trespassing in order to hang a white supremacist banner on a building's roof.
The two soldiers are reportedly already back on duty.
The neo-Confederate group has since proclaimed that the two were in no way officially associated with their organization: “They were arrested for hanging a banner on one of the local businesses,” the group wrote on Facebook “When the police took down the banner we all cheered because we assumed it was another [labor union banner]. We thought by the wording it was 110% some anti-everything slogan. Several of us have been researching the meaning and silly as it sounds, we still can't figure out what these guys were there to express.”
Chesny and Manning later told police they were at the rally in order to film counter-protestors. They said they were hoping to capture the violent practices of local anti-fascists.
The military bases at which each officer is attached have released a statement saying the situation is currently under investigation: “Once the investigation is complete, the commanding officer's action can range from taking no action and letting the civilian authorities prosecute the case, to administrative actions such as formal admonishment, non-judicial punishment or administrative separation from the service,” said Mike Barton, a spokesman for Chesny’s command unit at Cherry Point. “The commanding officer may refer the case to a court martial if the investigation determines the misconduct was serious enough to warrant a prosecution of crimes not already handled through the Alamance County criminal court.”
“Of course we condemn this type of behavior,” added Marines spokesperson Maj. Clark Carpenter. “We condemn any type of behavior that is not congruent with our values or that is illegal ... This is two Marines that behaved inappropriately. That’s going to be investigated, and ultimately it’s an isolated incident.”
Various reports in the past few years, however, have indicated that the white supremecist views in the military and police are becoming increasingly prevalent. The problem may be far more widespread than officials would prefer to recognize.
Both men were freed on the day of their arrest after paying a $1,500 bond.
[Photo: Getty Images]