The U.S. Military Academy announced Friday that an internal investigation concluded that hand gestures flashed by West Point cadets and Naval Academy midshipmen during Saturday’s Army-Navy football game were associated with the “circle game,” not white supremacy.
The investigating officer concluded that the cadets were playing the common game, popular among teenagers, and the intent was not associated with ideologies or movements that are contrary to the Army’s values. The officer said the cadets involved will face administrative or disciplinary actions. The hand gestures were captured during an ESPN broadcast of the annual game, which was attended by President Donald Trump.
“We investigated this matter thoroughly,” Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, the school’s superintendent, said in a statement. “Last Saturday we had reason to believe these actions were an innocent game and not linked to extremism, but we must take allegations such as these very seriously.”
“We are disappointed by the immature behavior of the cadets,” Lt. Gen. Williams added.
A separate investigation conducted by the U.S. Naval Academy found the midshipmen’s hand gestures had no racist intent.
“The Naval Academy is fully committed to preparing young men and women to become professional officers of competence, character, and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps; in this case, we recognize there is more work to be done,” Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck said.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville concurred with both investigations’ findings, stating it was “determined there was no racist intent by cadets.”
“The American people trust our Soldiers to do the right things the right way. We must be mindful of behavior which brings that trust into question and ensure our actions meet the high ethical and professional standards our nation expects the American Soldier to uphold,” said McConville.