The Army and Navy have spoken, but so far there has been nothing but silence from a South Carolina Democrat who accused cadets of making white power gestures during the Army-Navy football game.
In a since-deleted tweet, Democratic state Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell wrote, “Three separate candidates making the white power symbol on television. Wonder what the culture is like for the cadet in the front? There’s no excuse and he and other minorities there shouldn’t have to deal with such a cruel and disrespectful environment.”
But since her tweet appeared, U.S. Military Academy cadets and U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen have been cleared of wrongdoing in separate military investigations of their conduct during ESPN’s College Gameday at the Dec. 14 football classic, according to Fox News.
Those reports led to questions of when Powers Norrell would retract her claim or apologize.
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) December 20, 2019
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) December 21, 2019
Leave it to the Democrats to always try and use/weaponize the racist card. As a vet, I find SC state Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell actions disgusting. To accuse these servicemen of racism. If she did her hw she would know it’s a common game played in service https://t.co/dpmF6D9Ngo
— DeplorableVet (@TheRealElucifer) December 22, 2019
The reports both cleared cadets and midshipmen of racism, but suggested their conduct opened the door to the inaccurate allegations.
“The investigating officer concluded that the cadets were playing a common game, popular among teenagers today, known as the ‘circle game’ and the intent was not associated with ideologies or movements that are contrary to the Army values,” according to a West Point statement.
“We investigated this matter thoroughly,” West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams said. “Last Saturday we had reason to believe these actions were an innocent game and not linked to extremism, but we must take allegations such as these very seriously. We are disappointed by the immature behavior of the cadets.”
“We develop leaders of character who serve to defend our nation and the American people, and we expect our cadets to lead and live honorably and demonstrate excellence. Leading and living honorably means to act in a professional manner at all times,” Williams said.
“The United States Military Academy ordered this investigation after reports suggesting racist gestures may have been displayed by cadets at the Army-Navy game. Racist statements, gestures and symbols have no place in our Army. The investigation determined there was no racist intent by cadets. The American people trust our Soldiers to do the right things the right way. We must be mindful of behavior which brings that trust into question and ensure our actions meet the high ethical and professional standards our nation expects the American Soldier to uphold,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville said.
“The premise of the game is that a person makes a circle with their pointer finger and thumb below their waist. If someone looks at the circle, they lose and the person who made the circle gets to punch the person who looked in the arm,” the Navy report said.
“Within the last two years, the ‘OK’ hand gesture, which looks like the gesture made for the circle game, became the target of an internet hoax which claimed that the gesture signified ‘white power.’ In light of this hoax, several prominent members of ‘white power’ and ‘white supremacy’ groups began making the gesture in public, thereby appropriating the gesture as a symbol of their movements,” the Navy report said.
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The report said two midshipmen identified from video evidence were interviewed.
“Both midshipmen adamantly denied supporting or having any association with the “white power” movement or having any ill intent when displaying the gesture. Their denials are supported by the statements of their friends, roommates, members of their chain of command, and team captains who unanimously stated that they have never heard any of the midshipmen involved make a racial or derogatory comment and have never seen or heard about any concerning behavior by any of the midshipmen involved. Background checks by both the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force for both midshipmen did not reveal any known association with any racist or supremacist group or raise any other cause for concern,” the report said.
“There is no evidence that either midshipman intended to convey any type of message through the hand gesture. The evidence indicates they intended to play a sophomoric game,” the report concluded, while also noting that “the hand gestures displayed while in uniform during a live national television broadcast were unprofessional and not in keeping with the standards required of all midshipmen.”
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