Sharpton: Citadel upperclassmen asked cadets to remove pillowcases

Activists withdraw call for school president’s resignation

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Rev. Al Sharpton held a press conference along with National Action Network leaders following his meeting with Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa - DUSTIN WATERS
  • Dustin Waters
  • Rev. Al Sharpton held a press conference along with National Action Network leaders following his meeting with Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa
Citadel cadets photographed wearing white pillowcases resembling hoods were asked to remove the costumes by upperclassmen, according to statements made by the Rev. Al Sharpton following his meeting with Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa. Citadel officials and a representative from the National Action Network have confirmed Sharpton’s comments.

Prior to the almost two-hour meeting, The Citadel released a statement, saying the school has completed the initial stages of its investigation. The military college press release also noted that eight cadets involved with the photos have been temporarily suspended, but the students have been allowed to take final exams. They will resume classes with the rest of the Corps of Cadets on Jan. 13, as the administrative process proceeds, according to school officials.

According to a statement released by The Citadel, the cadets involved with the incident have provided statements, and the school will conduct hearings to determine what disciplinary action, if any, will be taken following the school’s holiday break. A final decision on the students’ fates should be made by late January or early February.

In addition to discussing the controversial photos, Sharpton also spoke with Rosa regarding the removal of the Confederate Naval Jack from The Citadel’s Sumerall Chapel, which is protected under the state’s Heritage Act.

“The good news I did hear from the president is that the upperclass white students in the room told them to take them off, so I’m glad that upperclassmen did that,” Sharpton said, “but I would be even more happy if the state legislature would complete their job by letting state institutions do what was done on the state capitol grounds and by mandating the flag anywhere is a symbol of hate everywhere and that we see that there be due process or justice at the end of due process to these eight students that think that hate and supremacy are funny.”

Regarding the flag, Sharpton added, “The president explained to the leadership that it is the state legislature in the bill that states that the state institutions cannot remove anything beyond what was done already without going back to the state assembly and that he himself would like to see the state assembly allow them to take the flag down and would participate in telling the state legislature that.”

The National Action Network is no longer calling for Rosa’s resignation following a meeting. S.C. state coordinator for the National Action Network Elder James Johnson described the meeting with Rosa as fruitful and said his organization will await the findings of the school’s investigation into the events surrounding the photos released on social media, drawing national attention. 


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