White Power Symbol or OK Sign? Video Shows NYPD Officer Flashing Hand Gesture and Laughing

An NYPD officer flashed 'OK' sign with his hand that some say is 'white power' symbol while patrolling area near Union Square

A hand gesture in which the thumb and forefinger joined together in a circle while the remaining fingers are splayed out behind is in the spotlight after a New York Police Department officer was captured on video making the sign. Does this sign mean "all is good?" Or does it mean "white power" instead?

The controversial video was posted on social media and it soon became viral, with netizens expressing their concern over the attitude of the officer. The NYPD officer was wearing a helmet, holding what appears to be a baton in one hand in the viral video while on duty in Union Square, the site of a massive protest in the wake of the death of African American George Floyd.

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The viral video

The four-second video showed that the officer raised his hand and made a sign by joining his thumb and index finger while stretching out the other three fingers. The hand symbol made by the unnamed NYPD officer typically means "OK." But the gesture initially was associated with 'white power' as an online joke. In the video, when another officer approached the NYPD officer, he was seen laughing in a sarcastic manner.

When is the 'OK' Gesture Not ok?

In 2019, the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organization, added 36 symbols to its "Hate on Display" database, including 'OK' hand gesture after many raised concerns about its association with white supremacy and the far right.

As per NPR, Oren Segal, director of the ADL's Center on Extremism, said that for years throughout the Internet, the 'OK' signal has been used in memes and other images, promoting hate. As per Segal, given the number of white supremacists who have adopted it, the gesture can now carry a nefarious message.

In addition, he said: "More people than not will use the OK symbol as just 'OK.' But in those cases where there's more underlining meaning, I think it's important for people to understand that it could be used, and is being used, for hate as well."

Just like the New York incident, in May last year, Chicago Cubs identified a fan who made the same hand gesture on television. Theo Epstein, the team's president, told reporters: "The incident last night is truly disgusting. It gave me shivers to watch that, to see that take place at Wrigley Field."