ICYMI: West Point Clears 16 Black Women Cadets After Investigating ‘Unity’ Photo

By Sameer Rao May 13, 2016

We reported last week (May 5) on an investigation by United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, (often addressed as simply "West Point") officials into a widely circulated photo featuring 16 Black female cadets, posing in uniform with fists raised. West Point confirmed Tuesday (May 10) that it will not punish any of the students in question. 

"The inquiry concluded that the photo was among several taken in the spur-of-the-moment. It was intended to demonstrate ‘unity’ and ‘pride,’ according to the findings of the inquiry," read West Point’s statement. The photo, which you can see above, received criticism from some who thought the cadets’ raised fists violated Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, which discourages "partisan political activity" by service members. Amy Times reported at the time the investigation began that some critics (especially former soldier, motivational coach and conservative John Burke in a popular blog post) thought the raised fists symbolized affiliation with Black Lives Matter—a chapter-based nonpartisan organization that refused to endorse any presidential candidate in the 2016 election. 

The statement further noted that "based upon available evidence none of the participants, through their actions, intended to show support for a political movement."