KKK gang or Christmas ghosts? Military cadets suspended over white hoods photos
The photos, which caused outrage when they emerged online, show several young cadets wearing white Ku-Klux-Klan-like hoods and white clothes. The youngsters are joined by a man in black sportswear.
The Citadel’s president, Lieutenant General John W. Rosa (ret) said in an official statement that he regards the photos posted online as “offensive and disturbing.” He stressed, however, that it was too early to draw conclusions as the investigation is still ongoing.
“In accordance with College policy, we immediately began suspension proceedings for those cadets known to be involved, and we are continuing to investigate this incident,” Rosa said. “Preliminary reports are that the cadets were singing Christmas carols as part of a ‘Ghosts of Christmas Past’ skit.”
Chairman of the Citadel Minority Alumni Association Lamont A. Melvin said “activities that led to this social media posting were not a mistake and should be dealt with severely because symbols matter.”
“This is not the first, second or third time that racially charged events have been documented to have occurred at The Citadel,” he said on Facebook.
A 19-year-old woman who would not reveal her identity discovered the photos in her Snapchat feed, she told ABC News.
The pictures were from a man she met online via a dating app. The woman confessed that he had told her he “always wanted a black girl.” Having discovered the photos, she felt “offended” and decided to post them on Facebook.
"Would anybody else take this as really just singing Christmas carols or supposed to be dressed up as ghosts? ‘Cause in my opinion that's not what it looked like at all," the woman told ABC.
She said she was asked by the cadets to remove the post. She complied, but reposted the images later because she believed people should know the story.
Race relations have been an acute issue in Charleston after a church shooting on June 17, 2015, when a gunmen opened fire during a prayer service, killing nine people including the senior pastor. The police identified and arrested 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who confessed he committed the shooting out of racial hatred.