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Army investigates possible racist material sent to Redstone Arsenal personnel

Rep. Mo Brooks speaks at Chamber of Commerce Washington Update at Von Braun Center North Hall in Huntsville, Ala.

BOB GATHANY, AL.COM/TNS

By PAUL GATTIS | Alabama Media Group | Published: July 9, 2020

(Tribune News Service) — Following strong complaints from U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, the U.S. Army said Wednesday night it is investigating how possible racist material was included in a handout for an Army initiative on equality.

The material was distributed to personnel at Redstone Arsenal, Brooks said in a Wednesday press release. It included a pyramid graphic that described President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan as an example of covert white supremacy.

Brooks, a Republican from Huntsville whose district includes the arsenal, said the material violated the Hatch Act, which limits certain political activities of federal employees.

Brooks sent a letter to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy calling for an investigation. Trump was copied on the letter as well as U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper among other high-ranking Washington officials.

An Army spokeswoman said the material handout as part of Project Inclusion “included two unapproved pages that were sent out in error and immediately recalled,” according to Army Times.

Redstone Arsenal did not respond to a request for comment from AL.com on Wednesday.

Project Inclusion, created in the aftermath of racial unrest across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, is a listening tour that began Wednesday at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. The event continued Thursday.

The pyramid graphic has a collection of words and phrases described as either overt white supremacy or covert. Examples of overt white supremacy, according to the chart, include “lynching,” “hate crime,” “the N-word,” “burning crosses” and “swastikas.”

The much broader covert word cloud includes — in addition to the Trump campaign slogan — phrases such as “prioritizing white voices as experts,” “calling the police on Black people,” “You don’t sound Black” and “Don’t blame me. I never owned slaves.”

Cynthia Smith, the Army spokeswoman, said in an email to Army Times that “slides — copied from a non-government website — included a word cloud with phrases that were intended to spark conversation; however, the document was predecisional and inappropriate for the discussion. The unapproved pages were in no way used as part of the ‘Your Voice Matters’ listening tour sessions.”

In his press release, Brooks said that, “Heads should roll” over the graphics.

“Numerous Redstone Arsenal employees have expressed outrage to me about the U.S. Army blatantly violating the Hatch Act and, in effect, labeling patriotic Americans ‘White Supremacists’ and racists if they say or do dozens of things outlined in the U.S. Army email,” Brooks said. 

“I aim to get to the bottom of this outrageous propaganda and see that those responsible are appropriately prosecuted and fired.”

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