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West Virginia probes police trainees who posed for nazi salute photo

WEST Virginia Governor Jim Justice called on Thursday for the “termination of all those involved” in a sick police training photo which shows officers giving nazi salutes.

The billionaire coal magnate, who won office as a Democrat but then switched to the Republican Party, said such behaviour “will not be tolerated on my watch.”

The picture shows over 30 participants in a basic training class run by the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety giving the salute under the caption “Hail Byrd!”, a reference to their instructor.

The department’s cabinet secretary, Jeff Sandy, has suspended all the employees and is investigating the “distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive and completely inappropriate” behaviour by trainee officers.

A Jewish Democrat delegate to the West Virginia legislature, Mike Pushkin, said no-one who performed nazi salutes should be a police officer.

“At best, this is an extreme lack of judgement for people who have a lot of power over other people’s lives,” he said. “At worst, it’s just blatant anti-semitism, and it’s disgusting.”

The sentiment was echoed by Rabbi Victor Urecki of Charleston’s B’nai Jacob synagogue, who said it was “deeply shocking and troubling to me and I know it will be devastating to not just members of my community but any person of decency.” He warned that more needed to be done to educate people in West Virginia about the politics of hate.

Concern over anti-semitism in the United States has risen since last year’s gun massacre of 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh by Robert Bowers, a white supremacist with a history of anti-semitic, Islamophobic and anti-immigrant internet posts.

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