Justin Bieber on Monday posted a photo of himself jokingly strangling fellow singer Chris Brown, a gesture many in social media called questionable given Brown's history of assault and the controversy over Eric Garner's death after a chokehold by a New York police officer.
Bieber, 20, captioned the Instagram image, "Had fun with the homey," referring to his friend Brown, 25. The two have known each other since at least 2011, when Bieber was featured on Brown's single "Next to You," from the album "F.A.M.E."
In 2009, Brown was sentenced to five years' probation and more than 1,400 hours community service for assaulting his then-girlfriend, pop star Rihanna, that February on the eve of the Grammy Awards ceremony. A probation report at that time had documented at least two previous domestic violence incidents.
Bieber's spokesman had no comment. Brown's spokesman did not respond to a Newsday request for comment.
Bieber has had Instagram issues before. In April, he removed an image of himself at a controversial shrine in Tokyo that memorializes, among others, 14 Japanese leaders convicted of World War II war crimes. "Thank you for your blessings," read the caption. After an outcry across Asia, Bieber removed the photo and wrote, "To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry. I love you China and I love you Japan."
In July, following a heated encounter with actor Orlando Bloom in a restaurant in Ibiza, Spain, Bieber posted a swimsuit photo of Bloom's ex-wife, Miranda Kerr, on Instagram but quickly withdrew it. Bieber then posted an uncaptioned photo of Bloom with his right hand up to one face -- possibly crying, possibly simply rubbing his eye. The singer removed it after 10 minutes.