The U.S. Military Academy at West Point has cleared 16 female cadets who were photographed in a graduation picture with raised fists, saying they did not violate Department of Defense or Army regulations.
The photograph, which surfaced earlier this month depicted the women in the pose, attracted the attention of blogger John Burk on IntheArenaFitness.com, where he launched a rant against the cadets, calling them “unprofessional” and saying the gesture was a display of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
However, an inquiry conducted by West Point officials found that the photos were not intended to espouse any political position and that it was one of several photos the cadets had taken in the tradition of the academy’s graduates.
“Based upon available evidence none of the participants, through their actions, intended to show support for a political movement,” said West Point officials in a statement.
Supporters of the cadets, who remained unidentified said all along that their intention had nothing to do with any political stance.
“They weren’t doing it to bee aligned with any particular movement or any particular party,” Mary Tobin, a West Point graduate and mentor to several of the cadets, told CNN. “It was ‘We did it and we did it together.’ ”
West Point’s graduation ceremony is scheduled to take place May 21.