- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The 16 black West Point cadets who caused controversy last month by posing for a photo with their fists in the air have completed the mandatory training session required to graduate, an Army spokesman said Monday.

Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker, the director of public affairs for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, told Army Times that the senior cadets successfully took part in a weekend training session, clearing the way for them to attend Saturday’s commencement ceremony.

“The training occurred over the weekend,” he told the Times in a statement. “It was a productive session that focused on how perceptions can impact the cadets’ role in the profession of arms.”

West Point launched an investigation late last month after a photograph surfaced showing the 16 female, uniform-clad cadets posing on school property with their fists raised in the air, a gesture often associated with black nationalism.

The ensuing outrage was amplified by claims that the raised fists were meant to show allegiance with the Black Lives Matter movement, which advocates against violence directed toward blacks.

The probe ultimately concluded that the cadets had not violated a Department of Defense policy that prohibits enlisted members from engaging in “partisan political activity” while in uniform, but determined they should be required to attend a counseling session in order to graduate.

“While the inquiry did not find that these cadets violated a policy or regulation, it did determine that they demonstrated a lapse of awareness in how symbols and gestures can be misinterpreted and cause division,” West Point’s superintendent, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., wrote last week when the completion of the academy’s investigation was announced. “The impact of this photo, regardless of its intent, is evident. It is unfortunate that this perception brought attention to our alma mater for all the wrong reasons.”

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