WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Military officials are investigating the motives of service-academy students who flashed hand signs on national television on Saturday that in certain contexts are linked with “white power.”
- The hand sign seemed to be shown both by West Point cadets and Annapolis midshipmen during a broadcast of the annual Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.
- Military Academy officials haven’t yet determined their intent, a West Point spokesman said.
Military officials are starting investigations after some West Point cadets and Naval Academy midshipmen were seen on television making a hand sign possibly associated to the “white power” movement.
The hand signs were captured on Saturday during an ESPN broadcast ahead of the annual football game between the Army and Navy. The “OK” hand signal were seen as ESPN anchor Reece Davis talked about the rivalry while surrounded by some students.
The hand sign has become popular among far-right extremists in the past years. The images were shared on Twitter by some users, noting its appearance on the ESPN telecast. According to NBC News, two West Point cadets and one Naval midshipman were captured making the hand gesture.
The U.S. Military Academy has yet to determine the motive behind the symbols, a West Point spokesman said.
“We’re looking into it,” Lt. Col. Chris Ophardt, a West Point spokesman, told The Wall Street Journal. “I don’t know what their intention is.”
Annapolis spokeswoman Cmdr. Alana Garas added to the newspaper that officials were aware of the incident and that they would be “looking into it.”
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Southern Poverty Law Center have defined the “OK” hand sign as hateful symbols with messages linked to white supremacy. The ADL, a Jewish civil rights group, earlier this year added the symbol to its online database of hate symbols.
In 2017, the hand sign got a “new and different significance thanks to a hoax by members of the website 4chan to falsely promote the gesture as a hate symbol, claiming that the gesture represented the letters ‘wp,’ for ‘white power.'”
But the ADL also stresses that the “traditional meaning of the ‘okay’ hand gesture” means that people should use caution before jumping to conclusions when they see it.
The U.S. Coast Guard in 2018 said that a member had been removed from a hurricane response team after flashing the sign on television.
Source: The HILL