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Corps to punish Marine for Trayvon Martin tweet

Apr. 16, 2012 - 05:08PM   |   Last Updated: Apr. 16, 2012 - 05:08PM  |  
A screengrab of Staff Sgt. Suneel Mehta's tweet.
A screengrab of Staff Sgt. Suneel Mehta's tweet. (Twitter)
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Staff Sergeant Suneel Mehta (Twitter)

The Marine who made light of the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin via Twitter is facing disciplinary action from his unit.

"Rifle range all day today. Shooting black all day like George Zimmerman!" Staff Sgt. Suneel Mehta said April 5 via Twitter, referencing the color of targets used during Marines' weapons training. Word of his tweet spread, and a reader contacted Marine Corps Times, criticizing the Marine and calling his comment racist.

Martin was killed Feb. 26 in Florida, and the teen's shooting death has sparked a debate over racism in America. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder.

Mehta, a wire chief with Headquarters Company, 7th Marine Regiment, later told Marine Corps Times he was sorry for his "distasteful" comment, and he has since deleted his Twitter account.

Mehta is based at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. A spokeswoman from the base provided an official statement:

"The unit is taking disciplinary measures for Staff Sgt Metha's inappropriate comment posted on Twitter. The unit leadership is responsible for taking corrective action, while also continuing to educate unit members on proper social media etiquette in accordance with current rules and regulations."

The statement offers no details of Mehta's possible punishment. It says "Official Marine Corps policy on the use of social media provides ample guidance for Marines to conduct themselves as professionals, and we, as Marines should refrain from posting comments that are distasteful or reflect negatively on the Marine Corps."

Mehta said April 12 that he is not a racist, and that he is done using social media.

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