Note: we are republishing this story to raise further awareness for the racial justice movement and the continued efforts of Black Lives Matter in America.
The photo appears to show the all-black, all-female cadets raising their fists in a gesture that has lately come to be associated with the controversial movement. However, the gesture has been used for centuries to symbolize resistance by a variety of groups, from labor unions to suffragists to Black Panthers.
The Army Times reports that it received the photo from concerned readers who were worried that the cadets may have violated Department of Defense Directive 1344:10, Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces. The directive discourages cadets from "partisan political activity" when in uniform.
John Burk, a former soldier and now current motivational coach, accused the cadets of aligning themselves with a political movement. He noted on his Facebook page that an anonymous military service member reached out to him to express their concern.
"It's a really touchy subject here," the anonymous source told Burk, according to the Daily News. "We can get kicked out of West Point, or forced to repeat years for what is called a 'respect board.' They can be given just for making someone upset, so no one wants to get kicked out of college … over something like this."
Burk's Facebook post has since gone viral, and many commenters were unhappy with the cadets' actions.
"Equality means abiding by the same standards," one commenter wrote. "Kick those WOMEN OUT!"
"All of these cadets should be expelled, immediately!" another wrote.
It remains to be seen what disciplinary actions the Army will take, if any. The 16 cadets in the photo have yet to be identified.