The U.S. Military Academy at West Point is investigating a photograph that depicted 16 black female cadets in uniform raising their fists in a salute associated with the Black Lives Matter movement. "We can confirm that the cadets in this photo are members of the U.S. Military Academy's Class of 2016," said a statement from West Point’s director of public affairs, Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker. He added, “Academy officials are conducting an inquiry into the matter."
Not many details are known about the case at this time, but the photo has been shared widely within military circles. Also circulating is the claim that the women are supportive of the aims of the Black Lives Matter movement. Critics are concerned that the photo violates the Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, which cautions against "partisan political activity" when in uniform.
Writing on his website, veteran and motivational coach John Burk accused the 16 cadets of aligning themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement and claimed that they have also made proclamations on the YikYak website. “It’s a really touchy subject here. We can get kicked out of West Point, or forced to repeat years for what is called a ‘respect board,’” the anonymous source told Burk. “They can be given just for making someone upset, so no one wants to get kicked out of college and lose their commission over something like this.”
Cadets at West Point and the other service academies are discouraged from participating in political acts or movements while in uniform.
Burk's Facebook post on the photo reached more than 1,400 shares and over 660 comments on the controversy.