Nooses Left For Coast Guard Officer, Black Cadet; Congressman Calls For Thorough Investigation

Tuesday, September 25th 2007, 8:31 pm
By: News On 6

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) _ Nooses were left in a black Coast Guard cadet's bag and in the office of a white officer who conducted race relations training after the incident, leading a congressman to call Tuesday for a thorough military investigation.

A Coast Guard probe was unable to determine who left the nooses, said Chief Warrant Officer David M. French, a spokesman for the Coast Guard Academy.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, on Tuesday urged Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen to address the full academy and asked for a more intensive probe.

``Racial discrimination and intolerance have no place in either the Academy or the Coast Guard, and these incidents run directly against the efforts being made to increase diversity throughout the Coast Guard,'' Cummings said in a statement.

``I have asked Admiral Allen not only to conduct a thorough investigation into the incidents, but also to address the entire academy to convey that such behavior will not be tolerated in the service,'' he said.

Cummings praised the efforts of the academy to expand training in race relations but said that was not enough.

Rear Adm. J. Scott Burhoe, the academy's superintendent, said he had ordered the Coast Guard Investigative Service to look further into what he called ``heinous acts.''

``As an American institution, we have an obligation to send a clear message that these actions are in no way acceptable,'' Burhoe said in a statement. ``Symbols such as those reported go against everything our Coast Guard is all about. We pride ourselves in being one of the most inclusive institutions of higher learning.''

He said if the person or people who planted the nooses are caught, the academy will ``pursue appropriate action including possible proceedings under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.'' The academy has also pledged to hold additional racial sensitivity training, seminars and discussions in the coming months.

A task force found that minority members comprised 13.5 percent of the Coast Guard's student body, compared with 16 percent in 1991, Cummings said. Minorities comprised only 7 percent of the faculty and staff, and fewer than 1 percent of captains on active duty are black, Cummings said.

The first noose was left in the cadet's bag July 15 on board the Coast Guard cutter Eagle, French said. The second was found in early August on the office floor of a female officer who had been conducting the race relations training in response to the first incident, he said.