At least 30 US prison cadets have been fired after a photo emerged showing them giving what appears to be a Nazi salute.
The image shows the cadets at the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation making the gesture below a sign that reads “Hail Byrd!”, referring to a class instructor.
The state governor announced on Monday that the cadets would be fired.
The picture was taken on their graduation day on 27 November.
“As I said from the beginning, I condemn the photo of Basic Training Class 18 in the strongest possible terms,” Governor Jim Justice said in a statement.
“This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated on my watch in any agency of state government.” In addition to those who appeared in the photo, two trainers and a cadet were dismissed earlier.
It shows around 30 blurred faces and appears to have been recently shot for the state’s “Basic Training Class #18”. The photo does not include names of the employees and the location is not known. The class reportedly took place from 21 October to 27 November.
The text referred to class leader Kassie Byrd, the state’s Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety said. According to a report from the department, a member of staff expressed her concerns to Ms Byrd after receiving the photo.
Ms Byrd responded by saying there was nothing wrong with the picture, the report said. She explained the caption by saying: “They do that because I’m a hard-ass like Hitler.” None of the names of those dismissed have been officially released.