Air Force Academy Says Offensive Graffiti Was Fake, But Racism Is Real

"You can never overemphasize the need for a culture of dignity and respect," the school's superintendent said.

The discovery of racist graffiti that sparked an uproar at the United States Air Force Academy turned out to be a hoax. But the school’s superintendent stands by his forceful defense of equality ― a message to students that subsequently went viral.

One of the five African-American cadet candidates at the academy’s preparatory school who said they found racial slurs written on the doors of their rooms in September admitted responsibility, the school, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said Wednesday.

But the confession doesn’t dim the importance of the original message, according to the superintendent, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria. He made a speech to the school’s cadets and faculty ordering them to “get out” if they were unable to treat others with respect and dignity. He pointed to controversies surrounding the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and National Football League players kneeling during the national anthem to reinforce the message. 

“Regardless of the circumstances under which those words were written, they were written, and that deserved to be addressed,” Silveria said Wednesday. “You can never overemphasize the need for a culture of dignity and respect — and those who don’t understand those concepts, aren’t welcome here.”

The cadet candidate who admitted writing the slurs “received administrative punishment” and has left the school, Lt. Col. Allen Herritage, the academy’s director of public affairs, told CNN.

The academy didn’t immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for further comment.