Big­ots blasted

Re­ports of shooter at school af­ter Air Force big rips hate

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY JES­SICA SCHLADE­BECK

THE SU­PER­IN­TEN­DENT of the Air Force Academy con­demned racist notes writ­ten on dor­mi­tory mes­sage boards of five African-Amer­i­can can­di­dates at the prep school Fri­day — a pas­sion­ate speech that was fol­lowed hours later by a re­port of an ac­tive shooter at the base.

Po­lice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing a pos­si­ble shoot­ing at the Colorado Springs, Colo., school. Cadets there posted on so­cial me­dia that they’d re­ceived a text alert about a gun­man just af­ter 10 p.m. lo­cal time.

The fright­en­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tion came the same day Lt. Gen. Jay Sil­ve­ria’s pow­er­ful speech to thou­sands of cadets.

“If you’re out­raged by those words, then you’re in the right place,” Sil­ve­ria told nearly 4,000 cadets and staff at the Air Force Academy’s Prepara­tory School. “That kind of be­hav­ior has no place in the prep school, it has no place in a USAFA and it has no place in the United States Air Force. You should be out­raged not only as an air­man, but as a hu­man be­ing.

“And I’ll tell you the ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponse for this hor­ri­ble lan­guage and hor­ri­ble ideas, the ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponse is a bet­ter idea. So that’s why I’m here.”

Sil­ve­ria said it would be “naive” to avoid ac­knowl­edg­ing the slurs — the words “go home” scrawled along­side a racial ep­i­thet — es­pe­cially given the cur­rent ten­sion across the coun­try.

“We would be tone deaf not to think about the back­drop of what is go­ing on in our coun­try — things like Char­lottesville and Fer­gu­son, the protests in the NFL. That’s why we have a bet­ter idea,” he said.

Air Force Academy se­cu­rity forces are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent, and Sil­ve­ria em­pha­sized the be­hav­ior will not be tol­er­ated, of­fi­cials said in a state­ment. Based on the hand­writ­ing, of­fi­cials sus­pect there is a lone van­dal, the Gazette news­pa­per re­ported.

The su­per­in­ten­dent closed his re­marks by high­light­ing the im­por­tance of diver­sity.

“The power that we come from all walks of life, that we come from all parts of this coun­try, that we come from all races, that we come from all back­grounds, gen­der, all makeup, all up­bring­ing — the power of that diver­sity comes to­gether and makes us that much more pow­er­ful,” he said.

Be­fore of­fer­ing his fi­nal words, Sil­ve­ria urged the group to record his words and share his mes­sage — “Reach for your phones, I’m se­ri­ous,” he said.

“If you can’t treat some­one with dig­nity and re­spect, then you need to get out,” Sil­ve­ria con­cluded. “And if you can’t treat some­one from an­other race or a dif­fer­ent color skin with dig­nity and re­spect, then you need to get out.”

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