CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - The Citadel military college in South Carolina said on Thursday it was suspending eight cadets after photographs were posted on social media showing them wearing pointed white pillowcases that resemble hoods worn by the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist group.
Seven freshmen cadets wore the hoods and all-white clothing while singing Christmas carols as part of a “Ghosts of Christmas Past” skit, according to initial findings by the college in Charleston. An upper classman was also photographed with the group.
The costumes resemble the white hoods and garb worn by members of the KKK, a group that has targeted blacks with cross burnings, lynchings and other violent acts.
The eight cadets have been removed from the campus and could be expelled as a result of the investigation, Citadel spokesman Brett Ashworth said. The school did not identify the cadets.
The Citadel, founded in 1842 and known as the Military College of South Carolina, has a campus in the city where nine black churchgoers were killed on June 17 by a gunman during a Bible study session.
The incident touched over a national debate over the display of the battle flag over the pro-slavery Confederacy, as well as fresh soul-searching over racism in America.
“These images are not consistent with our core values of honor, duty and respect,” said John Rosa, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who is now the Citadel’s president.
Rosa called the photos, which were posted on Snapchat and Facebook, “offensive and disturbing.”
Citadel spokeswoman Kim Keelor-Parker said the school was investigating whether more people took part and would have no further comment until the probe is complete.
Reporting by Harriet McLeod, writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Andrew Hay and Lisa Shumaker