Washington DC

DC Fire Investigating After Photo Shows Recruits Using Hand Gesture

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Washington, D.C.'s fire department says it is investigating after a photo circulating on social media shows recruits displaying a hand gesture that can be associated with white supremacy.

The hand sign seen in the photo is similar to the nonverbal expression for "OK."

D.C. Fire and EMS said it was made aware of the photo on Wednesday.

"The photograph includes those attached to Recruit Class 387 and their instructors. Recruit Class 387 graduated in April of 2019, and it is believed the picture was taken in March of 2019," the fire department said in a statement. "The Department has immediately initiated an internal review of the photograph, which may include interviews with everyone pictured in the photograph."

The Anti-Defamation League says on its website the "OK" hand gesture acquired a different significance in 2017 because of a hoax perpetuated on the online message board 4chan. The idea was to troll liberals by taking an innocent symbol and making them believe it was racist.

The hoax was so successful the symbol became a popular trolling tactic with right-leaning individuals and, ironically, some white supremacists, the ADL said.

In December, military officials determined that Army Cadets and Navy Midshipmen who flashed similar symbols were playing a juvenile game known as "the circle game" and were not making hand gestures that have become associated with white nationalists and other hate groups.

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