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Justin Bieber Apologizes After British Tabloid Publishes Video Clip of Racist Joke

Image courtesy of Image credit: Ben Watts (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Image credit: Ben Watts (via ABC News Radio)

There's more trouble for Justin Bieber .  When the singer was just 15 years old, he told a racist joke to a group of friends.  Now it's come back to haunt him. 

The British tabloid The Sun first published the video, which is five years old. TMZ has since posted it, too, claiming that Justin was aware that there was a camera rolling at the promotional event where it was shot.  Bieber asks, "Why are black people afraid of chainsaws?" then answers, "Run n****rn****rn****r," in a manner that imitates a chainsaw starting.

In a statement obtained by ABC News, the pop star, now 20, addresses the video clip.

Justin explains, "As a young man, I didn't understand the power of certain words and how they can hurt. I thought it was ok to repeat hurtful words and jokes, but didn't realize at the time that it wasn't funny and that in fact my actions were continuing the ignorance. Thanks to friends and family I learned from my mistakes and grew up and apologized for those wrongs."

The singer continues, "Now that these mistakes from the past have become public I need to apologize again to all those I have offended. I'm very sorry. I take my friendships with people of all cultures very seriously and I apologize for offending or hurting anyone with my childish and inexcusable mistake. I was a kid then and I am a man now who knows my responsibility to the world and to not make that mistake again."

Justin concludes, "Ignorance has no place in our society and I hope the sharing of my faults can prevent others from making the same mistake in the future.  I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say but telling the truth is always what's right. Five years ago I made a reckless and immature mistake and I'm grateful to those close to me who helped me learn those lessons as a young man. Once again....I'm sorry."

Meanwhile, Justin's former bodyguard, Kenny Hamilton , took to Twitter to defend his friend.  Hamilton tweeted, "As a black man I am telling the world that @justinbieber is not a racist. I have known him since he was 12 years old and I know his heart."  He added, "He will always be criticized and judged every day of his life by people who only know him because of blogs or the press. That won't change."

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