Image Of West Point Cadets Ignites Debate

Note: This story was originally in the news in May 2016.

The photograph depicts a group of all-black, all-female cadets raising their fists, a gesture associated with a controversial movement. However, this gesture has a history spanning centuries, symbolizing resistance for various groups, from labor unions to suffragists to the Black Panthers.

The Army Times obtained the photo from concerned readers, fearing a violation of Department of Defense Directive 1344:10, which discourages cadets from engaging in “partisan political activity” while in uniform.

John Burk, a former soldier turned motivational coach, accused the cadets of aligning with a political movement after being contacted by an anonymous military service member expressing concern.

“It’s a really touchy subject here,” the anonymous source told Burk, according to the Daily News. “We can get kicked out of West Point, or forced to repeat years for what is called a ‘respect board.’ They can be given just for making someone upset, so no one wants to get kicked out of college … over something like this.”

Burk’s Facebook post gained traction, with many commenters expressing dissatisfaction with the cadets’ actions.

“Equality means abiding by the same standards,” one commenter wrote. “Kick those WOMEN OUT!”

“All of these cadets should be expelled, immediately!” another said.

The Army’s response and potential disciplinary actions, if any, are yet to be determined. The identities of the 16 cadets in the photo remain unknown.

Sources: Daily News, Army Times

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