191230-hail-byrd-nazi-salute.jpg


All 34 cadets from the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation who posed in a class photo raising their hands in a Nazi salute will reportedly be fired, the state’s governor announced Monday.

Gov. Jim Justice’s decision followed a state probe that found the class had been giving Nazi salutes since early on in their five-week training, according to a summary of the probe obtained by the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

However, the report also said there was no racist intent from the cadets because they did not fully grasp the gesture’s historical meaning.

Three academy staff were axed and four instructors were suspended without pay following an investigation by the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety into the photo from “Basic Training Class #18.”

The controversial picture, which was released earlier this month, contained the text “Hail Byrd!” — and one cadet during the course of investigation said the salute was a way to pay homage to their instructor, Karrie Byrd, the report said.

Byrd, though, claimed to investigators she was unaware of the gesture’s significance, believing it was just a greeting.

Her comments run counter to some of the investigative findings.

Explaining to a secretary what the cadets were doing in the photo, Byrd allegedly said: “That’s why they do that, because I’m a hardass like Hitler.”

The instructor allegedly “encouraged it, reveled in it, and at times reciprocated” the Nazi salute, the probe found.

Byrd was determined to be the one who took the class photo, retaking it several times because 10 of the cadets did not participate in the Nazi salute until she ordered them to, the report said.

Investigators determined that the picture was “highly offensive and egregious in appearance,” according to the summary of the findings.

But, the probe found, the cadets did not harbor any malicious intent and their actions weren’t discriminatory in nature.

DMAPS Director Jeff Sandy, who headed the investigation, chalked up the cadets’ behavior in the photo to “ignorance” — even though some class members admitted to investigators they recognized its “historical implications” and refused to participate.

“The investigation showed there was no white supremacy, no neo-Nazi, just ignorance,” he told the paper. “I guess you can say that’s the silver lining.”

Brian Abraham, Justice’s top attorney, declined to comment to the paper about the non-discrimination findings.

A DMAPS spokesman told the paper Monday the department is “awaiting guidance from counsel and leadership” regarding the release of the full report.



Source link

About the Author:

Leave a Reply