David O’Mary, mayor of Jasper, Alabama, suspended four police officers after a photo of the officers went viral after some local residents said that the cops were making hand gestures to signify white power and supremacy.
What are the details?
The photo in question, which was published in the Daily Mountain Eagle, featured several police officers who were instrumental in successfully carrying out a drug bust on a repeat offender.
O’Mary was pictured in the paper along with the officers.
The officers said they found crystal meth, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, and heroin during the bust.
In addition to the Jasper Police, officers from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Drug Task Force were involved in the bust.
In the photo, at least four of the Jasper officers can be seen making an “OK” sign on their legs with their fingers.
A Twitter user pointed out the hand gesture, calling them “white nationalist hand signs.”
In a tweet, the user wrote, “Jasper, AL police making white nationalist hand signs. Many faces are visible. Please help ID.”
Jasper, AL police making white nationalist hand signs. Many faces are visible. Please help ID. From All Things Walker County fb page. @afainatl @IGD_News @BhamDSA @NorthAlabamaDSA @SocialistRA pic.twitter.com/wtuqJLLbw7
— Jeff🌹 (@_noone_you_know) July 16, 2018
According to WBMA-LD, the officers were playing the “Circle Game” and were not throwing white supremacy hand signs.
WBMA’s Stephen Quinn confirmed that O’Mary suspended the four officers who were making the gesture.
Jasper Mayor David O’Mary confirms 4 police officers have been suspended w/o pay for the gesture in this photo published last week in the Daily Mountain Eagle. Many know it as the ‘Circle Game” but some say it’s racist & means ‘White Power’. @abc3340 pic.twitter.com/86gxnP7k8g
— Stephen Quinn (@StephenQ3340) July 16, 2018
According to Quinn, the “Circle Game” is a “popular among kids,” and “the idea of the game is for the person to trick the other into looking at the circle gesture displayed below their waist.” According to the game’s “rules,” if the person looks at the hand gesture, the other person is permitted to punch them.
Some local residents reportedly defended the officers for playing the game.
“It’s a kid game. Going around and hitting everybody when you see it,” one resident said after viewing the photo, according to Quinn.
O’Mary, however, said that some residents claimed the gesture was intended to express the phrase “white power” and had nothing to do with a game.
According to Quinn, O’Mary said that he has not spoken to the officers who were suspended and did not ask them what they meant by the gesture.
O’Mary reportedly said that it doesn’t matter.
“That’s contradictory to how we run our city,” O’Mary said. “That’s not our mindset. That’s not the way we do things and they used poor judgement.”
According to the report, the officers will be suspended for two weeks — during one of which they will receive no pay.
“We talked to two senior African-American law enforcement officers that are on the City of Jasper’s payroll and they think it’s fair and that’s a pretty good sounding board,” O’Mary added.
KID’S GAME OR RACIST GESTURE? – 4 Jasper police officers on drug task force suspended w/o pay for hand gesture made while posing for picture. It was taken after an arrest last week in the Frisco community. @abc3340 pic.twitter.com/RsoGnR5t2P
— Stephen Quinn (@StephenQ3340) July 17, 2018
The Anti-Defamation League’s website does not consider the “OK” hand gesture as a hate symbol. A 2017 post debunked the online hoax that the “OK” symbol was actually a sign for “white power,” by the formation of the fingers.
You can read more about the hoax here.