West Virginia Officials Announce Suspensions Over Photograph of Corrections Trainees Giving Nazi Salute

NEW YORK -

A photo released Thursday, December 6, 2019 showing state corrections trainees giving a Nazi salute has prompted the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety to suspend some of the trainees, and open an investigation into the incident, WVPB reported.

31 members of the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation Basic Training Class #18 were seated in rows, with most of them raising their arms in an offensive Nazi salute.

The faces in the photo have been blurred, and a caption reads “Hail Byrd!” and indicates that this class was conducted Oct. 21 through Nov. 27

A Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety spokesman said that “Byrd” refers to a training instructor for the class.

Gov. Jim Justice released a statement in which he condemned the photo, and that he has directed DMAPS Secretary Jeff Sandy to investigate the incident and dismiss all of those involved.

In a letter issued on Thursday, Secretary Sandy called the photo “distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive, and completely inappropriate,” and ordered all copies of the picture destroyed or taken out of circulation to prevent them from spreading. He said an investigation of the incident is ongoing, and announced that suspensions have already taken place.

Rabbi Victor Urecki of the B’nai Jacob Synagogue of Charleston said some religious leaders were notified earlier this week about the photo, and “were asked to come, see the photo before it was released, and were given a briefing of what was known at the time about this ugly situation.”