A group of correction officer trainees in West Virginia is being investigated after a photograph emerged Thursday of them making Nazi salutes while in uniform.
The photo, in which the faces of over 30 participants in Basic Training Class 18 are blurred, shows them making the salute under a sign reading “Hail Byrd.” It appeared to have been taken upon the group’s graduation from the course.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said he ordered the firing of any state employees determined to have participated in the photo.
“This will not be tolerated on my watch — within the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation — or within any agency of state government,” Justice said in a statement.
He also said he instructed Jeff Sandy, head of the state’s Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, to investigate the incident.
Sandy sent a memo to employees Wednesday calling the photo “distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive and completely inappropriate.”
He said a number of employees have been suspended over the incident and that he reached out to faith leaders to “help address it effectively.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety said the “Hail Byrd” sign referred to a training instructor, the Washington Post reported, and not former US senator Robert Byrd.