'Racial Thursdays' Alleged at Alaska Army Base, Report Says

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The U.S. Army has reportedly opened an inquiry into an alleged practice among some soldiers in Alaska of holding "Racial Thursdays" — when racial slurs were allowed without consequences.

The Army Times reported the allegations from two anonymous soldiers at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, in an article posted online Wednesday evening.

U.S. Army Alaska spokesman Lt. Col. Alan Brown confirmed to NBC News that a complaint was made and he said the command launched an investigation late last week. "There are allegations, and like any type of allegations of something like this, we take it very seriously," Brown said. "That's exactly what the command has done very quickly."

Brown said he was not aware of any other complaints of the behavior alleged in the report. "The nature of those allegations are not at all commonplace about how soldiers behave and how they’re treated up here," he said.

The soldiers told the Army Times that the practice was considered a "tradition" and that although it was forbidden it still goes on. The Army Times reported that the platoon allegedly involved is part of a unit that is part of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

Chinese-American Danny Chen was also assigned to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division before he apparently committed suicide while deployed with that unit in Afghanistan in 2011, the military has said. Chen’s family has said he was subjected to hazing and abuse by other soldiers, NBC New York reported.

Eight soldiers were court martialed. Two received prison sentences, two were discharged, and others were demoted and docked pay.

Brown said the recent inquiry "is in no way connected" with Chen, and that there have been several leadership changes in the years since his death.

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— Phil Helsel

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