Published: Sat, December 07, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

West Virginia prison staff suspended over Nazi salute

West Virginia prison staff suspended over Nazi salute

"It is distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive, and completely inappropriate", he wrote in a letter.

West Virginia officials have announced that three individuals have been fired and 34 others have been suspended without pay as a result of an investigation into a photo of corrections trainees giving the Nazi salute.

The department provided a copy of Sandy's memo and a copy of the photo in question, with faces blurred, to TPM on Thursday. The class was trained between October and November of this year.

"It undermines the high standards that have been set for our Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation". "I can not 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".

Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety Director Jeff Sandy sent a letter to all employees condemning the image, while Governor Jim Justice called for all who were involved to be fired.

According to West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the caption was interpreted as a possible reference to the deceased West Virginia Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, who was a Klu Klux Klan member before renouncing the hate group and supporting the civil rights movement.

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He also said he instructed Jeff Sandy, head of the state's Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, to investigate the incident.

Jewish West Virginia state Delegate Mike Pushkin, a Democrat, said the trainees depicted in the photograph shouldn't hold positions of authority over others.

"I condemn the photo of Basic Training Class #18 in the strongest possible terms", Gov. Justice said.

Many but not all of the employees in the photo have been suspended during the investigation, Sandy said. He said an investigation of the incident is ongoing. "At worst, it's just blatant anti-Semitism, and it's disgusting".

Division of Corrections Commissioner Betsy Jividen has ordered all copies of the photo be destroyed.

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