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In a decision that shows black privilege is every bit as real as claims of white privilege, sixteen black West Point cadets who posed with raised fists for a pre-graduation picture will not face punishment for their actions.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the U.S. Military Academy said the cadets “did not violate Department of Defense or Army regulations.”
The controversial image prompted concerns about proper behavior in uniform after some saw it as a show of support for the radical anti-cop Black Lives Matter movement, but an internal inquiry found that the cadets didn’t violate military rules limiting political activity.
West Point’s superintendent, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., reasoned in a letter to the student body that it was because the cadets “did not pre-plan or set out to make a political statement.”
Instead, according to the findings of the inquiry, the gesture was seen as a “spur-of-the-moment” act “intended to demonstrate ‘unity’ and ‘pride.'”
Never mind the history of the raised fist as a sign of militant defiance, as detailed by ABC News:
A raised fist has symbolized political resistance for generations, from Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison in 1990 to Democratic Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on the presidential campaign trail this year. It was used by black power advocates in the 1960s, including by two American sprinters during a medal ceremony at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, and more recently by activists for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Not that the superintendent didn’t give the cadets a stern talking to.
“We all must understand that a symbol or gesture that one group of people may find harmless may offend others,” Caslen wrote. “As Army officers, we are not afforded the luxury of a lack of awareness of how we are perceived.”
The decision has outraged many veterans and ABC reported that some critics have suggested the women were being held to a different standard than other cadets — there are 18 black women among the roughly 1,000 seniors in this year’s class.
The reaction on social media showed that while West Point didn’t see the gesture as supportive of Black Lives Matter, others did. And given her pro-BLM Super Bowl halftime performance, it didn’t take long for Beyonce’s name to come up.
Here’s a sampling of responses from Twitter:
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— ABC News (@ABC) May 11, 2016
— Sudha Mohan (@sumohan7) May 11, 2016
@ABC Of course not. Had it been white males doing some type of racist salute, they would have been thrown out of school and probably jailed.
— BREAKING NEWS TN (@Breaking_NewsTN) May 11, 2016
@ABC With a Commander in Chief that fully supports black racist hate groups I would have been surprised if they had gotten into trouble.
— Captain Hook (@captainhook1961) May 11, 2016
@ABC The Beyonce effect is truly unbelievable.
— Thaer (@AbuHamdeh82) May 11, 2016
@ABC must be kicked out if it was a group of whites doing a racial salute sharpton would have started a rally
— Sharky (@TheBigDeeg) May 11, 2016
@ABC Why not? Isn’t this saying “Black Power”? This would be headlines if it was the other way around.
— Eric Davila (@davilafamrvsd) May 11, 2016
@ABC Did you think they would, it would be another Ferguson, they would burn the CVS!
— Bart Smith (@bartsmith32) May 11, 2016
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