It’s unfortunately no secret that white supremacy is alive and well in the United States. There have been literal neo-Nazi rallies since Donald Trump took office in 2016, and—most recently—a tragic mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue. And in another instance of apparent hate speech and action, a group of Wisconsin high school students has come under fire for giving the Nazi salute in one of their junior prom photos.
The photo, which features the male students from Baraboo High School’s class of 2019, began circulating on social media on November 11th. According to The New York Times, the image could be purchased on photographer Peter Gust’s website, Wheel Memories, until it was removed on the night of the 12th. Currently, a message on the page states that it has been modified “due to malevolent behavior on the part of some in society.” The statement goes on to call out “bullying that is intellectual or emotional” and apologizes to “anyone that was hurt.”
An anonymous, since-deleted Twitter account called @GoBaraboo originally posted the picture, along with the caption, “We even got the black kid to throw it up #barabooproud.” Most students in the picture appear to be giving the infamous salute, but one student in the front can be seen making the “okay” sign, which as the Southern Poverty Law Center notes, has been co-opted by white nationalists.
User @CarlySidey tweeted a screenshot of the image to alert the school district, and journalist Jules Suzdaltsev later shared two versions of the picture.
BuzzFeed News reported that the Baraboo School District is investigating the incident and has also involved local police.
Mueller also tweeted a statement disavowing the boys’ actions.
One student in the picture refused to participate in the use of the white supremacist hand signs. The boy, Jordan Blue, issued a statement to Suzdaltsev.
No matter how the picture came about, making white supremacist gestures is never okay. White supremacy is not a joke, and we hope the Baraboo School District takes action.