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Indiana official apologizes for blackface Halloween costume

February 28, 2021 GMT

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A northwestern Indiana City Council member and police officer has apologized after photos recently surfaced of him in blackface nearly 20 years ago at a Halloween party.

Merrillville Councilman Jeff Minchuk, who is also a Lake County Sheriff’s Office police officer, apologized Saturday on Facebook.

“I blame no one else for what happened, it was my decision and a poor one at that. The thing that bothers me the most is, that this is not who I am,” Minchuk wrote. “I never have been or ever will be involved in any type of racism.”

One photo of Minchuk, obtained by The (Northwest Indiana) Times, show Minchuck in blackface and a black wig while wearing a shirt reading “Kill Whitey.” He is standing next to a person dressed in a white Ku Klux Klan robes. The photos were reportedly taken around 2003.

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According to Minchuk’s Facebook post, the person in the robes is a Black male friend who had coordinated costumes with him. He said they were trying to portray characters from a television comedy sketch by Dave Chappelle in which a white supremacist is Black.

“We were all in our mid-twenties to early thirties at the time,” Minchuk wrote. “My good friend, who is African American, went as the Black white supremacist and I went as the opposite. We thought that switching races for the party would be comedic, just like the show’s skit. We were hoping to show people that, even though this is comedy, that we can all get along no matter what.”

Merrillville Town Council President Rick Bella didn’t respond to requests for comment, including a message left Sunday by The Associated Press.

Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez told the newspaper that he does not condone the past behavior shown in the photos, calling it “disrespectful, irresponsible and in bad taste.”