A New Jersey police department has removed a Facebook post that contained a hand gesture known to be racially offensive due to its association with white nationalist movements.
The Matawan Police Department posted the image of several officers posing in a blizzard on Thursday. The caption said the cops were “specially trained ‘cuddler’” who could be called on by the community to keep them warm if their home was to lose heat.
The post had a playful feel to many until they noticed the hand gesture that has been seen as a code for supporters of the white nationalist movement. The gesture is an upside down “OK” symbol.
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That the police department would sanction such offensive gestures did not necessarily shock people but it certainly did offend them and complains poured in. In response, the Monmouth County Police Chief Jason D. Gallo took down the photo.
Even before the gesture became synonymous with white supremacy it was seen as the focal point of the circle game, a game that involves punching those who run afoul of the game’s rules.
Gallo claims the game is what the officers were trying to convey in the photo, saying, “The circle game, that kids play in school. Someone tried to say it was something racial. It’s just ridiculous. Unfortunately, something nice turned into us being in the news. That’s why a lot of departments are not on social media.”
The question is, since when has a game centering around punching people ever been seen as “nice?”