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The Marine Iraq War veteran who was assaulted and robbed outside a McDonald’s in Washington, D.C., wants everyone to stop using what happened to him as an excuse to inflame racial tensions.

Former Sgt. Christopher Marquez was knocked unconscious on Feb. 12 while leaving a restaurant in Chinatown. He told Marine Corps Times that prior to the attack, a group of people was very confrontational with him and asked him "if I think that black lives mattered."

Marquez, a Bronze Star with combat valor recipient, said he does not condone people citing the attack on him to make racial slurs on social media. He also would like the Black Lives Matter movement to condemn what happened to him because he feels the mugging was racially motivated.

“Even though this was a racially motivated attack, more violence or hate is not the answer,” Marquez said Thursday in an email to Marine Corps Times. “These people want to create more racism and division in our country because it serves their narrative. The best way to counter this cowardly movement is to be united and not divided."

Marquez said he strongly condemns any acts of retaliation and encourages people to have faith in the Washington police department and judicial system.

The police report of the Feb. 12 incident does not ascribe a motive to Marquez' attackers. In the brief narrative of events, police wrote that the suspects began to argue with Marquez and called him a racist. The police report quotes Marquez as responding by saying, "I am not even talking to you and that's your opinion."

Police released surveillance footage on Thursday showing three people they want to speak with in connection with the attack: A black male wearing a white tank top, a black female and a third person whose gender cannot be determined from the surveillance video.

On Thursday, Marquez condemned anyone who is trying to exploit the violence against him to attack others.

"The people who attacked me were racist, obviously," he told Marine Corps Times. "It would serve their purpose if they created more racism out of this, more chaos, because that's what they want."

The Metropolitan Police Department seeks the public's assistance in identifying and locating three persons of interest in reference to an Aggravated Assault and Robbery (Pickpocket) incident that occurred in the 900 block of E Street, NW, on Feb. 12.

While Marquez is critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, he is also urging people to stop using social media to make racial slurs and unfounded accusations against African Americans.

"That's just increasing people's anger on these matters," Marquez said. "People need to condemn this, regardless of their skin color. If someone commits a racist crime, it's a racist crime."

Marquez was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” device for refusing to leave his team leader while under intense fire in Fallujah, Iraq, in November 2004. He was eventually able to drag his mortally wounded team leader to a position of relative safety.

Later, Marquez helped carry then-1st Sgt. Bradley Kasal out of Fallujah’s infamous “Hell House.” A photographer captured the moment, which became an iconic image of the war. A bloodied Kasal had his arm draped over Marquez’ neck, M9 pistol firmly in hand.

“That was a crazy deployment,” Marquez told Marine Corps Times on Monday. “There were constant firefights all over the place.”

Investigators advise people who can identify the suspects to call police at (202)727-9099 or text your tip to the Department's TEXT TIP LINE to 50411.

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