Four Alabama police officers have been suspended without pay after the city’s mayor says they made a hand gesture associated with white supremacist movements in an official photo.
Local news station ABC 33 reports that four officers in the Jasper Police Department were suspended on Tuesday after a photo appeared in the Daily Mountain Eagle showing the four men making an “OK” gesture with their hands, which some say is meant to look like the letters “WP” for “white power.”
“That’s contradictory to how we run our city. That’s not our mindset. That’s not the way we do things and they used poor judgement,” Jasper Mayor David O’Mary told ABC News, adding that the concern was first raised by citizens.
Others say the symbol is simply a reference to the child’s prank known as the “circle game,” which tricks victims into looking down at a circular gesture near the prankster’s crotch. Local residents identified that game when shown the photo, according to ABC, and O’Mary says he did not ask what the officers meant by the gesture.
“It’s a kid game. Going around and hitting everybody when you see it,” one town resident told ABC.
The four officers, part of the city’s drug enforcement task force, will be suspended for two weeks without pay. O’Mary defended his decision to the news station by reporting that two black officers on the city’s police force spoke with him after it was made, saying they agreed with the suspensions.
“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.”
The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks hate groups and hate speech, has said that the “OK” gesture is not necessarily linked to white supremacist movements.