Reports of shooter at school after Air Force big rips hate
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.”