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A photo has surfaced of dozens of corrections officers in West Virginia doing a Nazi salute, and now some employees in the photo may be facing termination.
“BREAKING: Photo released that has led to numerous DOC employees being suspended,” WCHS reporter Leslie Rubin tweeted, along with the photo. The photo is titled “HAIL BYRD.”
BREAKING: Photo released that has led to numerous DOC employees being suspended pic.twitter.com/Lee98ldVl2— Leslie Rubin (@LeslieRubinWCHS) December 5, 2019
In the photo, more than 30 participants in the basic training graduating class of 2019 (which was conducted from Oct. 21 through Nov.27) posed with their arms raised in the Nazi salute.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice issued a statement condemning the photo “in the strongest possible terms.” The Republican governor also called for an investigation into the incident and for the employees involved to be fired.
“I have directed Secretary Jeff Sandy of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety to continue actively investigating this incident and I have ordered the termination of all those that are found to be involved in this conduct,” he wrote in the statement. “This will not be tolerated on my watch–within the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation–or within any agency of state government.”
Sandy reiterated the condemnation of the photo, calling it “hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive and completely inappropriate” in a letter addressed to the organization’s employees. The letter is titled “Conduct Unbecoming by Members of DCR.”
“It betrays the professionalism I have seen time and time again displayed and practiced by our brave correctional employees,” the letter continued.
Rubin later clarified that WCHS did not blur out the faces of the individuals in the photograph.
“This is the way the picture was released by the state,” Rubin wrote in a follow-up tweet.
I would also like to point that that WCHS/WVAH did not blur the picture. This is the way the picture was released by the state.— Leslie Rubin (@LeslieRubinWCHS) December 5, 2019
Virginia is now receiving backlash for releasing the photo with faces blurred out. Many online are calling for the faces of the officers to be revealed.
“Show their faces, cowards,” Twitter user @Chinchillazllla urged.
Show their faces, cowards— i bless the rains down in castamere (@Chinchillazllla) December 5, 2019
what uhhh what prompted the face blurring here?— Tuba Toofpaste (@TubaToofpaste) December 5, 2019
It is unclear whether the identities of the officers will be released or if the incident has led to any terminations.
Tiffanie Drayton is a geek culture and lifestyle reporter whose work covers everything from gender and race to anime and Xbox. Her work has appeared in Complex, Salon, Marie Claire, Playboy, and elsewhere.