A member of the US Coast Guard charged with responding to Hurricane Florence was removed after a televised gesture that some viewers claimed was a white power symbol.

"We are aware of the insulting video on Twitter – the Coast Guard has identified the member and removed him from the answer," the US Coast Guard said on his official Twitter account. "His actions do not reflect those of the US Coast Guard."

The organization is one of the federal agencies that responded to Hurricane Florence, which has since weakened into a tropical storm and killed at least 11 people in the southeastern United States.


US Coast Guard on hand gesture seen by a support staff member (below left) during an interview @MSNBC this afternoon:

"The Coast Guard has identified the member and removed him from the response, and his actions do not reflect those of the United States Coast Guard." pic.twitter.com/jjwZmCFFBI

September 15, 2018

The incident occurred during an MSNBC interview with Ali Velshi, during which Coast Guard Captain John Reed talked about the natural disaster in Charleston, South Carolina.

In the background sat another member with short hair, who turned to notice the camera before turning away and moving his right hand beside his head. His thumb and forefinger approached each other while the other fingers stood straight and upright.

The gesture triggered an online backlash that was interpreted by some Twitter users as a racist message. "Did you see this guy make White Power flash on TV?" Jan Gobble wrote, requesting an investigation.

Coast Guard Lieutenant J B Zorn said the incident was investigated: "Whatever that symbol means, it does not reflect the Coast Guard and our core values, it will not be tolerated."

Coast Guard officials have refused to identify the man or discuss possible disciplinary action.

The racist tensions have intensified in the US since President Donald Trump took office at the beginning of last year.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report


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