West Point Strips Racist Motto From Its Football Team Flag

West Point Strips Racist Motto From Its Football Team Flag

The United States Military Academy has stripped a motto from its football team spirit flag because of its connection to hate groups, the academy said on Sunday.

Since the mid-1990s, the Army Black Knights football team at West Point has been using a flag with a skull and crossbones and “G.F.B.D.”, which stands for “God Forgives, Brothers Don’t,” the academy said.

The letters were on the upper lip of the skull.

“The motto was originally used to emphasize teamwork, loyalty and toughness,” the academy’s public affairs office said in a statement on Sunday.

The team used the motto until academy officials learned that the phrase was associated with extremist groups. The slogan was removed in September and the team is continuing to use the flag without it, a spokesman said.

“The academy immediately discontinued using it upon notification of its tie to hate groups,’’ the statement said. The school announced on Thursday that it had completed an investigation into the use of the phrase.

“Ideology, actions, and associations of hate groups directly conflict with our values and have no place at this institution,” Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, the superintendent at the academy, said in the statement. The academy, which is 50 miles north of New York City, has 4,000 cadets.

“We took this very seriously,” General Williams said. “After a prompt and thorough investigation, the academy is fully confident that the football team’s use of the phrase was in no way related to a radical hate group or any similar groups. However, we are taking all necessary steps to ensure our team will not be associated with such an organization in the future.”

On its website, the Anti-Defamation League describes the phrase as one of the more popular slogans used by the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a large and violent white supremacist prison gang. Male members refer to one another as “brothers” and call their female associates “sisters.”

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement on Sunday, “Once informed of its context, it’s good that the team recognized the slogan as a potential red flag and immediately took action.”

Mike Buddie, director of athletics at the academy, said some of the players had embraced the phrase after seeing the movie “Stone Cold,” ESPN reported.

The 1991 action movie featured former N.F.L. player Brian Bosworth as an Alabama police officer who goes undercover in Mississippi to gain access to a white supremacist biker gang called The Brotherhood.

Mr. Buddie also told the sports network that the former cadet who initially shared the slogan with the football team did not know it had racist ties.


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