Thirty-four correction officer trainees have been fired after being photographed giving a Nazi salute in a class photo.
Jim Justice, the governor of the U.S. state of West Virginia, also fired the instructor of the trainees and suspended without pay four additional instructors.
According to the Associated Press, state investigators said in a report that trainees regularly gave the Nazi salute “as a sign of respect” for their instructor.
In a statement, Gov. Justice condemned the photo. “I also said that this act needed to result in real consequences – terminations and dismissals. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated on my watch in any agency of state government.”
The AP reported the fired instructor claims she was unaware of the hand gesture’s historical and racial implications and said she thought it was a greeting.
However, an executive summary of the inquiry found the instructor encouraged the hand gesture and was aware of its meaning, even comparing herself to Hitler.
The report concludes the actions displayed in the class photo are offensive but “did not reveal any overt motivation or intent that this was a discriminatory act towards any racial, religious, or ethnic group.”
According to the AP, the full state investigator’s report has not been released.