An Alabama mayor has suspended four Jasper PD officers without pay after they were photographed playing the “circle game,” with the elected official claiming the hand gesture can be perceived as “racist.”
The four JPD officers are members of the Drug Terrorism Task Force and were seen posing in a photo involving some of the work they do for the community. Wearing balaclavas and tactical gear, the officers can be seen playing the “circle game,” a game popular with children that involves trying to trick another person into looking at circle hand gesture below the waist.
“It’s a kid game. Going around and hitting everybody when you see it,” one local Jasper resident told KLEWTV.
However, Mayor David O’Mary claims people have told him the gesture -which is an “OK” gesture upside-down- is a symbol for white supremacy, and immediately suspended the officers involved.
Despite even the Anti Defamation League’s debunking of the “OK” hand gesture being used as a racist symbol, the Mayor has not spoken to the officers to get their side of the story, stating that it doesn’t matter.
“That’s contradictory to how we run our city. That’s not our mindset,” he said. “That’s not the way we do things and they used poor judgement.”
The mayor went on to say he got a nod for the unpaid two-week suspensions by two senior black members of Jasper PD.
“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.”
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 the ADL, the use of the “OK” gesture as symbolism for white supremacy was a hoax perpetrated by members of 4chan’s “/pol” community. Originated in 2017 under the subject of “Operation O-KKK,” the campaign was a psychological warfare prank to convince civil rights organizations, journalists and the general public (particularly more left-leaning demographics) that the symbol spelled “W-P,” shorthand for “White Power.” The idea was promoted through snapshots of “conversations” and carefully-crafted memes.
The notion of the gesture’s “evil intent” did, in fact, catch on, with lower-bracket tabloid outlets such as the Daily Mail posting articles involving a White House intern flashing the “OK” sign, much to 4chan’s delight.
“Why is the Daily Mail promoting this hoax?” one commenter said of the article “What happened to journalism?”
In short, “Operation O-KKK” was a success, latching on to the insecurities felt in the aftermath of the 2016 campaign and creating a “false flag” threat for people of the internet age to spread like wildfire.
In the /pol/ thread “OPERATION O-KKK HAS GAINED QUITE A BIT OF PROGRESS,” 4channers celebrated their victory
“[It] turns out Goebbels was right and people actually WILL accept whatever you tell them at face value as long as you repeat it enough,” one 4chan user wrote, referring to Nazi Germany’s Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, who spearheaded propaganda campaigns in the Third Reich“Their perception is malleable and we will mold it to our liking,” another wrote.
Other 4-chan disinformation campaigns include spreading the notion that clapping was “anti-feminist” and that “dab” (a popular dance move) had bad connotations.
However, ADL Senior Research Fellow Mark Pitcavage said that white supremacy symbols don’t simply become mainstream overnight.
“Leaving aside hate group logos, most hate symbols appear and spread organically, over time,” Pitcavage said. “The process of acceptance and growth in use typically takes months or even years, even for on-line symbols. If someone presents you with a symbol and says it is the big new white supremacist symbol, you should be appropriately skeptical.”
It is unknown if the officers will file suit in the aftermath of the suspensions.
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