West Virginia — Not one officer, not two, or three or even a dozen, but 37 future employees of the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation all raised their right arm in a Nazi salute and documented it with a photo. The incident, which goes far beyond just poor taste, is now the subject of an investigation as multiple employees have been suspended after the photo came to light.
The disturbing image shows the class members sitting in three rows all simultaneously giving the salute with text above them that reads “HAIL BIRD!” The state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, which released the photo of the salute, says the text refers to a training instructor in the class.
Jeff S. Sandy, cabinet secretary for the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, condemned the salute, according to a report out of CNN.
“It is distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive, and completely inappropriate,” he wrote in a letter. “It undermines the high standards that have been set for our Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. It betrays the professionalism I have seen time and time again displayed and practiced by our brave correctional employees.”
“This behavior warrants an immediate investigation and anyone who participated in any hateful and disgusting action should not be able to work for or be paid by the federal or state government and should be removed from their position immediately,” Sen. Joe Manchin said.
According to CNN:
While several employees have been suspended, Division of Corrections Commissioner Betsy Jividen has also directed that all copies of the photo be destroyed or otherwise taken out of circulation “to keep its harm from spreading,” Sandy said.
The department informed faith and community leaders of the incident and asked for their help in addressing the situation including with recommending changes or additions to training programs, Sandy wrote.
While it is not very likely that this entire class of future corrections officers giving the salute embraces Nazi history and white supremacy, it is possible. The very idea, however, that they would think it is okay to take a photograph embellishing the salute and symbol which epitomizes the antithesis of all that is good and free, is disturbing to say the least. It also illustrates a very serious problem and disconnect between the police and the policed.
These people apparently had no problem taking a photo that showed them giving a salute. They documented it! How many classes before theirs conducted similarly disturbing photographs?
It is also important to point out that this was not just a random photograph on someone’s phone for laughs, it was the official photo for the class with the state seal emblazoned on it.
With the racial disparity in American law enforcement ruinng the lives of minorities by the thousands, a photo of future law enforcement officers all giving the Nazi salute does irreparable harm to community relations.
What’s more, wile the idea of cops giving the Nazi salute may sound shocking, it is anything but isolated. TFTP has reported on numerous incidents in which cops were outed as Klansman and neo nazis.
Just last August, Muskegon police officer Charles Anderson was been placed on paid vacation and not fired after racist KKK memorabilia was discovered in his home. Although he wasn’t seen giving a Nazi salute, he was found with an “Application for citizenship into the Klu Klux Klan” hanging on his bedroom wall.
Also, as we previously reported, a Florida deputy police chief was exposed as a member of the KKK , and no criminal wrongdoing was found as he resigned. In September, a Louisiana police detective was also caught in a photo giving a Nazi salute at a KKK rally. And an Alabama police officer recently spoke at a League of the South rally.
While the South has been fertile ground for racist groups, the KKK has penetrated many police departments around the country, as evidenced by the Lynwood horror in Los Angeles.
Larissa Moore and four of her law school colleagues performed an investigation of unsolved civil rights murders from 1946 to 1969, under a Syracuse University program, and confirmed an ugly truth.
During the Civil Rights movement, one of the KKK’s first orders was to infiltrate police departments, “because the laws don’t apply to them if they are the law,” according to Moore.
This echoes an FBI statement in 2006 that white supremacist groups “have historically engaged in strategic efforts to infiltrate and recruit from law enforcement communities.” The federal agency’s concern seems to be selfish, though, as it stated that the hate group’s actions cause “investigative breaches and can jeopardize the safety of law enforcement sources and personnel.”