White power? Really? Military officials at West Point say they are “looking into” a white supremacist hand gesture made by cadets during a televised Army-Navy football game on Saturday. The gesture in question has been associated with the “white power” movement.
The Daily Beast reports that two cadets from West Point and one Naval Academy midshipman from Annapolis were seen making the hand gesture while standing on the sideline behind journalist Rece Davis. The gesture is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “the thumb and forefinger joined together in a circle, the remaining three fingers splayed out behind.”
The moment was also captured on social media, in case you missed it on ESPN, and people are demanding answers and disciplinary actions. “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.”
NBC News reports that Cmdr. Alana Garas of the Naval Academy said in an email, “We are aware and will be looking into it.”
One Twitter user said, “That is extraordinarily atrocious. A young cadet proudly and belligerently displaying his racism and hate. That cadet needs to be removed from academy. Not fit to serve or lead.”
Another person questioned West Point’s moral compass. “West Point: It appears you don’t run a very tight ship among your cadets. Where did these young men get the idea this lack of discipline, flashing white supremacy hand symbols is acceptable? This lack of discipline and outrageous behavior reflects on West Point,” the user wrote.
Other folks are attempting to shift the narrative away from racism and are saying that the men were holding up the “OK” sign. “It is not a white power symbol. It is the ok sign. Why don’t people understand this!” another person said in response to the social media clip that has since gone viral.
However, the Anti-Defamation League says the “OK” hand gesture “acquired 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.’”
The ADL also noted that “some white supremacists seem to have abandoned the ironic or satiric intent behind the original trolling campaign and used the symbol as a sincere expression of white supremacy.”
A similar incident happened last year where a Coast Guard appeared to make the same racist gesture during a news broadcast. The Coast Guard’s official Twitter page released a statement saying that the organization “identified the member and removed him from the response.” They added that his actions did not reflect that of the United States Coast Guard.
Check out more reactions to the brazen racism below.