CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – South Carolina’s military college The Citadel is investigating after pictures surfaced on social media this week of cadets dressed in all white with pillowcases over their heads, images similar to the Ku Klux Klan.
A statement from college president called the photographs offensive and disturbing and said the college has begun proceedings to suspend the eight students involved.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. John Rosa’s statement said seven cadets as well as an upperclassman cadet were in the photographs.
The pictures show the students dressed in white T-shirts and white pants. Rosa said preliminary reports indicate the students were singing Christmas carols and supposed to be portraying “Ghosts of Christmas Past.”
But he said the pictures aren’t consistent with the college’s core values of honor, duty and respect.
Statement from The Citadel:
A social media posting, which I find offensive and disturbing, was brought to my attention this morning. It shows an upper class cadet in front of seven cadets with pillowcases over their heads. In accordance with college policy, we immediately began suspension proceedings for those cadets known to be involved, and we are continuing to investigate this incident. Preliminary reports are cadets were singing Christmas carols as part of a “Ghosts of Christmas Past” skit. These images are not consistent with our core values of honor, duty and respect.
We will provide more information upon completion of the investigation.
Lt Gen John W. Rosa, USAF (ret)
President, The Citadel
Statement from Representative Wendell G. Gilliard:
I would like to take this opportunity to express my opinions on the incident that occurred at The Citadel. It is an inexcusable act that several Citadel cadets appeared on social media dressed in consumes resembling the Ku Klux Klan. This heinous act was committed in close proximity to Mother Emanuel AME Church and with the recent Walter Scott shooting, this adds insult to injury. This action by the cadets warrants nothing short of an expulsion for all those who are found to be involved in this intolerable act of hate. I am stalwartly requesting a meeting with Citadel President, Ret. Lt. General John Rosa, to discuss this matter in great details.
Statement from Senator Marlon Kimpson:
This kind of behavior is absolutely unacceptable and these students should be expelled. They have dishonored The Citadel, the people of Charleston, and the people of South Carolina.
I have spoken to General Rosa and he has assured me that pending the outcome of the school’s investigation, whatever action that is within his power he will take, including expulsion.
Yet we cannot be satisfied by simply punishing this bad behavior. We must uproot it forever.
Flying the Confederate flag in Summerall Chapel damages our community, our spirit as a people and gives comfort to the students who committed this act. Taking it down from the inside of the chapel should be the first step towards moving forward. We must follow the flag’s removal from the chapel with substantive and progressive action so that students have mutual respect for one another.
Statement from the National Action Network State Director Elder James Johnson:
South Carolina State Director Elder James Johnson and Charleston Tri-county president Mr. Charles Tyler both of National Action Network is appalled about some of the Cadets being dressed in Klansmen’s attire . If these cadets can be identified, we are asking that these cadets be expelled from the Citadel.
The National Action Network has scheduled a news conference for Friday, December 11, 2015 at 11 a.m. on the Citadel campus. We’re told the organization will ask Ret. Lt Gen John W. Rosa to resign as president of the Military College.