Colorado School Board President Posts Nazi Salute Photo at Family Vacation

A board of education president has come under fire after he uploaded a photo showing two people appearing to give Nazi salutes during a family vacation onto his personal Facebook page.

Matthew Clawson, of the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 in El Paso, Colorado, has apologized over what he described as "children's play" after the image sparked outrage on social media.

The photo taken during Clawson's family vacation in Lake Powell, Utah, shows several young children wearing fake mustaches posing, while two elder males standing at the back, also sporting fake mustaches, raise their arms in a salute similar to the one given by the Nazis.

The photo was one of a number which were posted onto Clawson's Facebook page before it was eventually taken down.

Here is a picture posted on the personal page of our school board President, Matthew Clawson. First, he saw no problem with his kids/family posing in such a heinous way. Then he posted it for all to...

In a lengthy apology, Clawson said that a couple of his children were wearing "old Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Brothers" type mustaches during a birthday party celebration. He claimed he did not see the two males raise their arms while posing for the photo.

Clawson said he then allowed a family member to upload all the vacation photos onto his account about a week after they returned home. Clawson said he only then spotted the "inappropriate and offensive" photo and took it down.

"The removal of the offensive picture resulted in significant family conversations," Clawson said.

"Unfortunately, the photo was on Facebook long enough for it to be viewed by a few of you in the community, despite the fact that it was removed before I was contacted by anyone expressing concern over the picture."

He added: "I have spent decades fighting for religious freedom and the rights of all —irrespective of race, color, or sexual orientation. I want to take this opportunity to say that I support racial equality, social justice, and equity for all. I do not support the suppression of anyone or acts of racism.

"In no way do I take the example I set lightly. I am grieved that this photo may have been construed as a reflection of my beliefs. This unfortunate incident is never appropriate at any time, but during these times it is extremely insensitive. Please accept my apology."

Members of the Colorado community are still demanding that Clawson face repercussions for the photo despite him offering an apology.

"He's supposed to represent all the families in the district. If his children are doing this and he didn't see a problem, that's not play," Corey Grundel, a former employee of the D-38 school district, told the Colorado Springs Indy. "It's certainly not play for people who are Jewish or people of color."

Briana Nelson, a graduate of Lewis-Palmer High School, added to The Colorado Springs Gazette. "I do believe that he should face appropriate consequences, as he represents Lewis-Palmer School District and what we stand for, and to partake in behavior such as this is inexcusable," she said.

"I think the post was incredibly disrespectful and uncalled for."

In a statement, Lewis-Palmer School District 38 spokeswoman Julie Stephen told the Colorado Indy Springs: "Our community and country are in the middle of a season that has provided extensive opportunities for growth and awareness around systemic racism and discrimination.

"D38 remains committed to non-discrimination in relation to race, creed, color, gender, ancestry, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age, and/or disability. We support our students, staff, families, and community with equity.

"We will not tolerate harassment or discrimination of students and/or staff based on the aforementioned areas."

The District and Clawson have been contacted for further comment.

nazi
(File photo) Demonstrators give the Nazi salute, as they carry a styled swastika flag, during a march called by several ultranationalist organizations, marking the new People's Unity Day holiday on November 4, 2005 in Moscow, Russia. A Colorado board of education president has come under fire after he uploaded a photo showing two people appearing to give Nazi salutes. Oleg Nikishin/Pressphotos/Getty