A photo showing 16 African-American female cadets raising clenched fists at the United States Military Academy has sparked controversy at the historically renowned school.
Behavior like this at a military academy is considered "completely unprofessional" and can be referenced to the #BlackLivesMatter movement spreading across campuses throughout America.
West Point officials are investigating whether the image violates academy rules that restrict political expression while in uniform.
“There’s a tradition at West Point for seniors where they pose and they have a very stoic look on their face intended to be a throwback to the old days,” Anthony Lombardo, editor of the Army Times told ABC News. “What makes this photo different is everyone is kind of doing the pose but then there is the clenched fist in the air. If these men and women are in uniform, and they’re making a political statement, they could afoul of the Defense Department regulation, and they could be in serious trouble for that.”
Mary Tobin, a graduate of the academy and mentor to some of the women, said the pose had nothing to do with politics.
"They weren't doing it to be aligned with any particular movement or any particular party. It was, 'We did it and we did it together,'" Tobin said, referring to their completion of four years at West Point.
According to Army Command Policy, including cadets at the academy, may "register, vote, and express their personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the Army."