Three people were fired and dozens more have been suspended after a photo surfaced of West Virginia correction officer trainees apparently performing a Nazi salute.
The image shows more than two dozen trainees with their arms raised and faces blurred. The image was released Thursday by the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, according to The Associated Press.
The picture includes only one line of text at the top, which reads “Hail Byrd.” A spokesperson for the agency told the AP that the line was a reference to an instructor for the trainees.
Jeff Sandy, the department’s head, said that of the three who were fired, two were training instructors and one was a cadet. Thirty-four other employees have been suspended without pay.
The photo of Basic Training Class Number 18 was taken at Glenville State College. Due to the fact that there is an ongoing investigation, the names and disciplinary statuses of those involved have not been released.
“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, according to the AP.
Sandy also noted that the trainees had undergone training on identifying white supremacist groups.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) condemned the photo during a press conference Friday, calling on those involved to be fired.
“This is intolerable to every single breathing human being within this state,” Justice said.
In a memo to employees sent before the photo was released, Sandy called it “distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive, and completely inappropriate” and ordered for all copies of the photo to be destroyed.