West Point officials say they are “looking into” what prompted West Point cadets to flash a hand sign during the annual Army-Navy football game on Saturday that has frequently been associated with the “white power” movement. Footage of several cadets and Annapolis midshipmen holding out their hands to make the gesture in front of a TV camera sparked an uproar on social media, where many called for the cadets to be disciplined for the move. “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,” he was quoted saying. A U.S. Naval Academy spokeswoman also said the matter was under review, according to the Journal. The hand sign was displayed by a handful of cadets and midshipmen standing behind ESPN anchor Rece Davis as he did a segment from the student section of the stands. The game was also attended by President Trump.
The gesture—which many who use it say is nothing more than an “okay” sign—became a common trolling tactic used by the far right after 4chan members created a hoax in 2017 promoting it as a hate symbol in a bid to spark a reaction from liberals. Soon after, however, actual white supremacists adopted the gesture. Brenton Tarrant, the self-described racist accused of gunning down 50 people in a New Zealand mosque earlier this year, flashed the sign during a court appearance in March.