West Virginia Governor Jim Justice fired close to 30 correctional officer trainees who were pictured giving a Nazi salute in a class photo. The firing came after a state report into the photograph, which recommended their termination, according to the Washington Post.
Governor Justice condemned the photo of Basic Training Class 18 “in the strongest possible terms,” in a statement saying, “This act needed to result in real consequences — terminations and dismissals.”
The photo, discovered in early December, showed the members of the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation Basic Training Class 18 with one arm raised. The text above reads “HAIL BYRD!” an alleged reference to a training instructor for the class, according to the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.
Three staff members at the training academy will also be fired. Additionally, four other instructors who failed to report the photograph will be suspended without pay.
Jeff Sandy, cabinet secretary for the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, recommended the cadets’ firing to Justice.
Sandy noted in his letter to the governor that some of the cadets “were aware of the connotations associated with the gesture, that they were uncomfortable with the practice … and/or that they only followed what they perceived to be an order” because they feared they wouldn’t graduate.
Nonetheless,” Sandy declared, “their conduct, without question, has also resulted in the far-reaching and harmful perceptions that are the antithesis of the values we strain to attain.”