NEW LONDON, Conn. – A congressman is calling for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy to thoroughly investigate two incidents in which nooses were left in the bag of a black cadet and the office of a woman giving race relations training.
U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., 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.
"The U.S. Coast Guard Academy is an institution that is tasked with preparing the next generation of officers for one of our most noble services, and I was utterly shocked when I heard about these implicit threats on both a student and an officer," Cummings said in a statement. "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 praised the efforts of the academy to expand training in race relations, but said that was not enough.
"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.
A task force found that minorities comprised only 13.5 percent of the Coast Guard's student body, compared to 16 percent in 1991, Cummings said. Minorities comprised only 7 percent of the faculty and staff and less than one percent of captains on active duty are black, Cummings said.
Chief Warrant Officer David M. French, an academy spokesman, had no immediate comment Tuesday, saying he was not sure if the academy had seen the congressman's letter.
An investigation was unable to determine who left the nooses, French said.
The first noose was left in the bag of a black cadet on July 15 on board the Coast Guard cutter Eagle, French said. The second noose was found in early August on the floor of the office of a white female officer who had been conducting race relations training in response to the first incident, French said.