Air Force forced to yank ad for Martin Luther King Jr. Day "fun shoot" target practice

A Georgia Air Force base used the civil rights icon's face to promote "two rounds and lunch"

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published January 15, 2016 9:31PM (EST)

  (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
(Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia was forced to apologize for a controversial ad promoting a Martin Luther King Jr. Day "fun shoot" on Thursday.

King, of course, was shot dead by an assassin in Memphis in 1968.

The flyer, which prominently featured King's likeness, advertised a noon gathering on January 18 -- a national holiday in observance of the late civil rights icon -- for the Robins Air Force Base Trap and Skeet Club. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, an official at the military base’s Outdoor Recreation office said the flyer was created by a marketing team. The 78th Force Support Squadron at Robins scheduled the trap, reported the Air Force Times. For $20, the poster promised, attendees would get "two rounds and lunch."

"We didn’t make the flyer,” explained Leroy Minus, the Air Force official. “We squared it away. We got rid of the picture.”

Robins spokesman Roland Leach later released a full statement of apology:

We’re deeply sorry for any offense or harm caused by our insensitivity and failure to provide appropriate oversight of our marketing process. The flyer does not represent the values, opinions or views of the Department of Defense, the Air Force or Robins Air Force Base leadership and its employees.

We realized the inappropriateness of the advertisement several days ago and immediately began removing the flyer. There was no malice of forethought in the flyer’s creation and it was never the base’s intention to portray Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in a negative light. It was an honest mistake, to which we’ve personally counseled the parties involved and will provide them with remedial training and appropriate oversight to prevent this sort of inattention from occurring in the future.

Again, we offer our heartfelt apology to those affected by our thoughtlessness. We hold the legacy of Dr. King in the highest regard.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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