A racist thought it was a good idea to make a mockery of a Black child who was simply trying to enjoy a theme park in Florida. Now, the girl’s parents have found themselves debating legal action.
“I’ve been emotionally distraught about it. I’m still pretty upset that someone felt they needed to do this to children,” Richard Zinger said about the incident.
In March, Tiffney and Richard Zinger traveled from Colorado to take their young son and daughter on a family trip to Universal Studios in Orlando. According to the Daily Mail, one morning they visited a hotel where characters from the movie “Despicable Me” posed for children at a breakfast event. The Zingers’ children posed with employees dressed like a minion character as well as the main character of the movie, Gru. But when their parents took a look at the photographs one month later, they saw that the person in the Gru costume was making the “OK” sign, which is popular among white supremacists, resting his hand on their daughter’s shoulder.
“It’s more than the ‘OK’ sign,” Richard said. “A lot of people don’t understand what that sign means.”
The Anti-Defamation League has classified the sign as a racist hand symbol, but the organization cautioned many to be sure that the gesture was used for a racist purpose as it was appropriated by white supremacists from its traditionally innocent meaning.
According to the Daily Mail, the parents looked at footage of the incident to make sure it was not an accident, but they noticed the Gru character gesturing for their daughter to come stand by his side and then deliberately forming the sign with his hands. The Daily Mail reported that experts have found that many white supremacists like to ‘sneak’ them into photos or contexts where they do not belong without anyone noticing. That seemed to be true when a woman flashed the symbol while sitting behind Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing last year.
“It can cause emotional stress on my child and her development,” Tiffney said.
The family expressed not being interested in financial compensation, but they retained an attorney to help them fight for accountability. It was not until this week that the unnamed employee was fired from Universal Studios.
“We never want our guests to experience what this family did,” a spokesman from Universal said. “This is not acceptable and we are sorry – and we are taking steps to make sure nothing like this happens again. We can’t discuss specifics about this incident, but we can confirm that the actor no longer works here. We remain in contact with the family and will work with them privately to make this right.”