On Tuesday, the 16 African-American cadets who stirred controversy when they took a photo together with raised fists were cleared following a probe into their actions by West Point.
The women were members of the U.S. Military Academy’s Class of 2016, and the picture was one of several that were said to have been taken in the spur of the moment of celebrating their upcoming graduation, according to the academy.
“It was intended to demonstrate ‘unity’ and ‘pride,’ according to the findings of the inquiry,” the academy said in a statement.
West Point said that the picture was not intended as a political statement but instead as a recreation of “old corps” pictures as part of a nod to the school’s history. However, in the statement, students were asked to be mindful of their actions and how they might reflect on the academy.
“As members of the Profession of Arms, we are held to a high standard, where our actions are constantly observed and scrutinized in the public domain,” Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, Jr., academy superintendent, said in a letter to the campus. “We all must understand that a symbol or gesture that one group of people may find harmless may offend others. As Army officers, we are not afforded the luxury of a lack of awareness of how we are perceived.”
The cadets will all still be allowed to graduate on May 21 and will be provided access to counseling before the ceremony.