West Virginia Prison Guard Trainees Suspended After Photo Shows them Giving Nazi Salute

Rebekah Sager
December 06, 2019 - 1:47 pm
West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety

West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety

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A group of West Virginia officer trainees were suspended along with three state employees after a photo of the group surfaced shows them giving a Nazi salute. 

The image, showing a class of about 30 West Virginia correction officers with their arms raised, but faces blurred was released by the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. The words 'Hail Byrd' is printed in all capital letters at the top of the photo, which Lawrence Messina, a spokesman for the military affairs department says refers to the trainees' teacher. 

The agency's secretary, Jeff Sandy described the photo of Basic Training Class Number 18 in a statement as "distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive, and completely inappropriate." Adding that the photo "betrays the professionalism I have seen time and time again displayed and practiced by our brave correctional employees."

There's an ongoing investigation into the photo. 

“This will not be tolerated on my watch — within the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation — or within any agency of state government,” Gov. Jim Justice said in a statement. 

According to the New York Times, Senator Joe Manchin III said in a statement on Friday that those found to be involved “should be removed from their position immediately.”