Commander-In-Chief Obama Silent On West Point Cadets ‘Black Power’ Controversy

Supporters of the West Point cadets say they were simply celebrating their forthcoming graduation as a shared accomplishment, like a sports team raising helmets after a win. Photograph: AP

President Barack Obama is remaining silent on the photograph of female African-American cadet graduates at West Point raising their fists in triumph while wearing their uniforms.

West Point officials are investigating the incident that has drawn attention because of rules forbidding any kind of political statement by cadets in uniform. Critics have described it as a “black power” salute, while others are defending the action as a symbol of triumph.

“We can confirm that the cadets in this photo are members of the U.S. Military Academy’s Class of 2016,” said West Point’s director of public affairs Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker in a statement to the Army Times. “Academy officials are conducting an inquiry into the matter.”

But as commander-in-chief, Obama has kept his reaction to the photo private. During the White House press briefing on Monday, reporters questioned press secretary Josh Earnest about the photo.

Earnest repeatedly asserted that he had not discussed the photo with Obama.

“At this point, I wouldn’t weigh in with a view on behalf of the Commander-in-Chief just because I haven’t talked to him about it,” he said.