West Point clears African-American cadets over raised-fists photo

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The 16 female, African-American cadets who appeared in a photograph with raised fists in uniform will not be punished for their controversial “Old Corps Photo.”

The U.S. Military Academy announced Tuesday that no punitive action will be taken against the cadets, according to a school press release.

The official inquiry concluded the photograph did not violate any Army or Department of Defense regulations and was only intended to demonstrate unity and pride.

“As members of the Profession of Arms, we are held to a high standard, where our actions are constantly observed and scrutinized in the public domain,” said academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., in a letter.

In addition to finding no official violations, the findings stated that no one in the photo intended to show support for a political movement, said the release.

“We all must understand that a symbol or gesture that one group of people may find harmless may offend others. As Army officers, we are not afforded the luxury of a lack of awareness of how we are perceived,” Caslen said.

The photo first circulated when John Burk, a blogger popular among some in the military, wrote about it after receiving the photograph from multiple cadets.

In his blog posts and Facebook page, Burk described the image as a “completely unprofessional” reference to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Facebook post ultimately drew thousands of likes and hundreds of comments.

The “Old Corps Photo” under scrutiny is a graduation tradition at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

According to tradition, graduating seniors in small groups don their ceremonial high-collared uniforms and pose for a photo in front of historic Nininger Hall.

By Pilar Melendez

CNN’s David Shortell contributed to this report.

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