CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Citadel has completed its initial investigation into cadets appearing in photos with pillowcases on their heads similar to Ku Klux Klan garb, the South Carolina military college announced Wednesday.
Later civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton met with the college's president, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. John Rosa, and said his National Action Network is suspending its call that Rosa resign.
Photos of cadets dressed in white pants and shirts while wearing pillowcases on their heads surfaced on social media last week. The college said an investigation indicated the cadets were taking part in a "Ghosts of Christmas Past" skit.
A statement from the college said the eight cadets involved have given statements and are temporarily suspended. Seven freshmen cadets appeared with pillowcases on their heads while an upperclassman in the picture was not dressed up.
They will return for classes next month and face administrative hearings through the college's military system. Then disciplinary recommendations will be made to Rosa.
The college said the process should be finished by early February and the chairman of the Citadel Minority Alumni Association will assist school officials with the investigation.
Rosa said the images in the photos are not consistent with the school's core values.
"I want people to know The Citadel is a place where everyone can flourish, meet their full potential and be treated with dignity and respect," the statement said. "I am committed to nothing less."
Last week, local members of the National Action Network called for Rosa to step down. Sharpton said that is being suspended as the college holds the administrative hearings for the cadets.
He added that his group will also push state lawmakers to allow The Citadel to remove the Confederate flag hanging in the college chapel.
"I don't know how people can pray with a symbol of hate and white supremacy and man's inhumanity to man in the chapel," Sharpton said.
The school's Board of Visitors voted to have the flag removed after the Charleston church shootings earlier this year. Dylann Roof, a white man who posed with a Confederate flag for online photos has been charged with killing the nine black parishioners.
But under the state's Heritage Act, removing the flag needs approval by the General Assembly.
Rosa said last week he has no intention of resigning and plans to honor his contract with the school, which calls for him to serve as president until 2018.
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