With blackface photos no longer en vogue, it appears that wayward white folks have moved on to the next best thing in order to jeopardize their livelihoods: Nazi salutes.
NBC News reports that three West Virginia corrections trainees have been fired after a picture surfaced of well over a dozen idiots making a Nazi salute in uniform. An additional 34 correction workers have been suspended without pay.
The state’s Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation blasted the image in a statement, calling it “distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive and completely inappropriate,” according to ABC News. West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety Secretary Jeff Sandy wasn’t feeling it, either.
“We are committed to a full and complete investigation that we will present to Governor Justice and to the public once it is finished,” Sandy said in a statement. “As terrible as this incident has been, it is critically important that we go by the book to arrive at the whole truth of what occurred and why.”
The investigation focuses on Basic Training Class 18 of the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The class was conducted from Oct. 21 through Nov. 27. In a photo obtained by the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, the trainees’ faces are blurred out and they are seen making the salute. Above them is text that reads, “HAIL BYRD!”
“This will not be tolerated on my watch—within the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation—or within any agency of state government,” Gov. Jim Justice told NBC News in a statement.
Justice also addressed the matter during a press conference on Friday and added, “We should, and do, condemn these actions in every way, shape, form or fashion.”
More than 50 interviews have been conducted over the course of the investigation into this matter. West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation Commissioner Betsy Jividen ordered existing copies of the image to either be destroyed, sent to her office, or “otherwise taken out of circulation to keep its harm from spreading,” per a letter sent to employees.
“I cannot stress enough how this betrays the high standards and professionalism of the men and women of corrections, who successfully carry out their vital and daunting public safety mission every day and around the clock,” Sandy said.