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West Point Cadets Investigated for Black Power Salute Photo

Image: West Point Cadets Investigated for Black Power Salute Photo

Undated image from Twitter shows 16 black West Point women cadets in uniform with their fists raised. (Twitter via AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 10 May 2016 05:54 AM

West Point is investigating 16 black women cadets who took a photo with their fists raised like a black power salute for violating Defense Department policy against political activities while in uniform, reported the Army Times.

The women were posing for a so-called "Old Corps photo," a tradition at the U.S. Military Academy, but the Army Times noted that social media commenters suggested the raised fists may be connected to the Black Lives Matter movement.

"West Point, the prestigious military academy that carries itself with honor and pride for the incredible leaders that have been produced from the rigorous academic undertaking of its cadets, yet what happens when those same cadets identify with a group that has been known for inflicting violent protest throughout various parts of the United States, calling for the deaths of police officers, and even going so far as to call for the deaths of white Americans," wrote John Burk, for the military blog In the Arena.

Under the academy's honor code, the cadets could be charged with conduct unbecoming an officer, Greg Greiner, a military law expert and partner at the Tully Rinckey law firm, told the Army Times.

Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker, a spokesman for the U.S. Military Academy, told CNN that an inquiry about the photo started April 28.

Sue Fulton, an academy alumna and member of West Point's board of visitors, came to the defense of the cadets. She retweeted the photo when it first appeared online last month and pointed out so did Patrick Murphy, acting secretary of the Army, said CNN.

"This is about their personal triumph, not about politics," Fulton told CNN, who added that she was not involved in the investigation.

"For all their training, cadets sometimes do things without thinking. Cadets sometimes act out of their youthful exuberance without understanding some of the consequences," she added.

Mary Tobin, another West Point graduate and mentor, told the Washington Post that the women were celebrating their graduation from the academy and had no intent to imply anything politically.

One of the most recognized uses for the gesture came during the 1968 Mexico City Olympics when black American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos lifted gloved fists in black power salutes during a medal ceremony, noted the Post. The newspaper wrote that the raised fist has been used as a symbol of power and resistance for a range of political movements and causes.

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West Point is investigating 16 black women cadets who took a photo with their fists raised like a black power salute for violating Defense Department policy against political activities while in uniform.
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Tuesday, 10 May 2016 05:54 AM
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