Military Investigating Students Using White Power Gesture During Army vs. Navy

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2019

President Donald Trump throws the coin before the start of the Army-Navy college football game in Philadelphia, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

Military officials told Dennis Romero of NBC News they are investigating the West Point cadets and Naval Academy midshipman who made what appeared to be white supremacist hand gestures during ESPN's broadcast of the Army-Navy game Saturday.

"West Point is looking into it, and we do not know the intent of the cadets," Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt, director of public affairs, told Romero in an email.

"We are aware and will be looking into it," added Cmdr. Alana Garas of the Naval Academy.

In September 2019, the Anti-Defamation League added the "OK" hand signal to its list of "Hate on Display" symbols. The description of the hand symbol states:

"A common hand gesture that a 4chan trolling campaign claimed in 2017 had been appropriated as a symbol meaning 'white power.' Used by many on the right—not just extremists—for the purpose of trolling liberals, the symbol eventually came to be used by actual white supremacists as well. Caution must be used in evaluating instances of this symbol's use."

The Southern Poverty Law Center also recognizes the "OK" hand symbol as a white power gesture, though added it is often used to "troll liberals."

In September 2018, the Coast Guard removed one of its members from duty after he made the hand gesture during an MSNBC on-air interview.

Navy won the 120th annual matchup between the two military academies, 31-7.