Some West Point graduates have recently come under fire for posting a picture online that appears to indicate they are Black Lives Matter activists. The suspected Black Lives Matter photo shows 16 black female cadets in uniform with their closed fists raised. They are grouped around the steps outside of the U.S. Military Academy’s front door.
The reason the cadets might be in a spot of trouble is not because they support Black Lives Matter. The problem, according to the U.S. military, is that they are supporting a political movement while wearing their uniforms.
The Army Times reports there is a section of rules and regulations set forth by the military that does not allow soldiers to “[d]isplay a partisan political sign, poster, banner, or similar device visible to the public at one’s residence on a military installation, even if that residence is part of a privatized housing development.” The publication received the photo, which was posted on Twitter and other social media outlets on Wednesday, and has been talking to various sources in the military about the repercussions stemming from the supposed show of support for Black Lives Matter.
At the moment, the academy is looking into the matter, but it’s not clear what could come from the investigation. Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker emailed a confirmation that the thing not at issue is that these women were indeed members of the academy. The International Business Times reports the student body at West Point, the site of the United States Military Academy, is about 8 percent black and 70 percent white. The school has said in recent years it would like to increase its student body diversity.
This doesn’t mean it wants to have more minorities attend but would also like to increase the percentage of female students. Actions taken by the school have already grown female population at West Point from 17 to 20 percent in the last few years. Part of the problem when it comes to growing certain populations is that anyone who wants to attend the Academy must have an endorsement from a member of the U.S. Congress. There isn’t a particular process to go through in order to get this endorsement, which means those who wish to attend never have it laid out just how they can get through the front door.
Black Lives Matter has likely made its way to campus precisely because of the low population of minority students on campus. Of course, because the cadets have not been identified and they haven’t explained why they posed for the picture, there is no guarantee Black Lives Matter has found its way to West Point at all.
More than one analyst has claimed the protestors are mostly “directionless,” and there have been other movements that didn’t have a specific leadership. Reports that the government is monitoring the group has been met with even more anger. Political leaders taking on the protestors with comments surrounding their assertion that all lives matter has only further made activists annoyed. Then there are the people who seem to believe that the movement is somehow subversive when those who are directly involved in it would claim they simply want their grievances, such as the shooting and killing of unarmed black men and women by cops, addressed. How the academy deals with the fallout of the picture of these 16 cadets and their alleged ties to Black Lives Matter will likely draw quite a bit of attention.
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