Recruits to the Washington, D.C., fire department are under investigation by the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services because they posed for a photo while flashing what a CBS News report labeled, a “white power” hand signal.
No surprise, the “white power” signal is, yet again, more likely the “OK” hand sign, used during the so-called “circle game,” though CBS and other mainstream media outlets were quick to accuse the recruits of abject racism.
“A photo of multiple D.C. Fire and EMS recruits holding possible ‘white power’ symbols is circulating across social media platforms,” D.C.’s CBS affiliate reported Thursday.
“The gesture is similar to the ‘OK’ hand sign,” the outlet explained. “The three fingers extended is supposed to be a ‘W’ and the circle coming off the arm is a ‘P’ — ‘WP’ for ‘white power.'”
The photograph includes fire and EMS recruits from Recruit Class 387 and their instructors, reportedly at the time of the recruits’ graduation in April of 2019. The photo surfaced only recently on social media and quickly went viral on Facebook.
“The department has immediately initiated an interview review of the photograph, which may include interviews with everyone pictured in the photograph,” CBS news reported.
“As a district citizen, I don’t feel comfortable with DC fire recruits taking pictures while showing the white power symbol,” one concerned Washington, D.C. resident told the outlet. “They all just saw the fall back from the Navy midshipmen doing this online, yet they still decide to follow with the same racial antics. Whoever took this picture and posted it online, should be looked at as well.”
CBS’s national news outlet quickly seized on the story.
It is not clear that any real advocate of “white power” has ever used the “OK” hand sign as a racist gesture; the connection between the signal and “white supremacy” began as a way for the denizens of Internet sites 4chan and 8chan to troll gullible media reporting on President Donald Trump’s supporters whom they presume to be white supremacists. The Anti-Defamation League says the “OK” symbol was “co-opted” by white supremacist groups.
The symbol is more commonly aligned with the juvenile “circle game,” where players compete to force other players to notice the “OK” symbol, in person and in photographs.
Last month, outlets like CBS panicked after leftists on social media identified what they considered to be “white power” signs in photos and video of West Point cadets and Naval Academy midshipmen attending the annual Army-Navy game. After the allegations went viral on Twitter, the United States military academies were forced to undertake an investigation into the matter. Unsurprisingly, they found that the cadets who were accused of being “racists” were, in fact, playing the circle game.
“We are confident the hand gestures used were not intended to be racist in any way,” Naval Academy superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck said in a statement released to media following the conclusion of the academy’s investigation. “However, we are disappointed by the immature behavior of the two Fourth Class Midshipmen, and their actions will be appropriately addressed.”
West Point found the same thing. “We had reason to believe these actions were an innocent game and not linked to extremism, but we must take allegations such as these very seriously,” their superintendent said in a separate statement.