Cadets and midshipmen flash ‘white power’ hand at Army-Navy game

Officials at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis are investigating after several cadets and midshipmen were seen flashing a hand sign sometimes associated with ‘white power’ at Saturday’s Army-Navy football game.

Students at both service academies were seen appearing to flash the controversial hand symbol during a pregame sideline report from journalist Rece Davis on an ESPN broadcast.

The hand symbol, once innocuous and typically meaning ‘OK’, was initially associated with ‘white power’ as an online joke, but has since been adopted by fringe racist figures.

Now, military officials are investigating to see what the intention of the cadets and midshipmen may have been in displaying the hand symbol.

‘We’re looking into it,’ Lt. Col. Chris Ophardt, a West Point spokesman, told the Wall Street Journal. ‘I don’t know what their intention is.’

‘We are aware and will be looking into it,’ said Annapolis spokeswoman Cmdr. Alana Garas.

At least two cadets and one midshipman were seen making the hand symbol.

The hand sign is formed by joining the the index finger and thumb in a circle while extending the other three fingers, as in the traditional ‘OK’ symbol.

A similar gesture is used in the so-called ‘circle game,’ in which the person making the gesture tries to trick someone into looking at it, and if successful gets to punch the onlooker in the arm.

However, the ambiguous nature of the gesture is part of the appeal to extremists, according to the Anti-Defamation League.


U.S. Coast Guard leaders last year reprimanded an officer who used a similar hand sign during a television broadcast.

After the Army-Navy broadcast, many spoke up saying that they were certain the gesture was intended as a brazen display of racist white supremacy.

‘They did this because they fully understand that most people in the dominant society share their views, and there will be no serious punishment against them,’ tweeted Tariq Nasheed, director of the film Hidden Colors 4: The Religion Of White Supremacy, and author of dating advice book The Art Of Mackin’.

‘Anyone trying to deny that this is a white power hand signal, are most likely to be white supremacist themselves,’ Nasheed added.

Saturday’s game was the 120th such match-up between the two service academies, and part of a beloved tradition in both branches of the military as well as the world of college sports.

The Philadelphia game drew 68,075 fans and ESPN’s ‘College GameDay’ was on hand.

The cadets and midshipmen stood, saluted, bounced and cheered for the entirety of what’s billed as ‘America’s Game.’

President Donald Trump attended the game for the second straight year. Trump also was at the 2016 game as president-elect.

Trump wore a red ‘Keep America Great’ hat for the traditional coin flip in misty conditions, and was greeted by a roaring ovation.

Army called heads, the coin landed tails and the Midshipmen deferred possession.

The referee said before the toss it was with ‘great pride, great honor, to welcome our Commander in Chief, our President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Mr. President, thank you for all that you do.’

Trump sat on the Army side of the field in the first half and crossed the field to the Navy side for the second half.

In 2016, Army snapped Navy´s 14-game winning streak and has won three years in a row. But the Midshipmen routed Army’s Black Knights 31-7 on Saturday. They had entered the game as a significant favorite.

How the ‘OK’ sign came to be associated with white supremacy

The historic hand sign for OK – touching the forefinger to thumb with other three fingers raised – is a formerly innocent symbol that has recently been co-opted by the far right.

The symbol’s co-option by racists began as a joke on far-right messaging site 4Chan – where users took an innocent gesture and pretended there was a hidden meaning behind it, hoping to trick left-leaning people into outrage.

But the joke escalated and soon the symbol was being widely used among far-right extremists, leading some people to conclude it has changed its meaning.

Conservative Viner Pizza Party Ben and the alt-right’s former pin-up boy Milo Yiannopoulos began making the gesture at various campaign events for Donald Trump in the lead up to the 2016 election.

White supremacist Richard Spencer also flashed the sign on election night in 2016 in front of a Trump Hotel with the caption ‘Tonight’s the night.’

The symbol has continued to be used, including allegedly by White House intern Jack Breuer in 2017, photographed making the OK sign in his class photo, who claimed he was copying the president’s gesture of touching his index finger and thumb while speaking.

The popular emoji has been registered as a hate symbol by the US-based Anti-Defamation League, but the group warned it is still ‘overwhelmingly’ used to show approval or that someone is OK.

Others use it as part of a ‘circle game’ created on US TV show Malcolm in the Middle, which involves someone making the gesture and holding it below their waist. If someone else looks at it, they get a punch in the arm.

*see full story by The Daily Mail