US Army and Navy probing ‘white power’ hand signals at football game
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US Army and Navy probing ‘white power’ hand signals at football game

Cadets seen making gesture during broadcast of nationally televised game attended by Trump

Navy cadets watch as US President Donald Trump attends the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 14, 2019. (Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)
Navy cadets watch as US President Donald Trump attends the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 14, 2019. (Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania — The Army and Navy academies are looking into hand signs flashed by students that can be associated with “white power” and were televised during the Army-Navy football game on Saturday, school officials said.

Cadets at West Point and midshipmen at the Naval Academy in the stands both appeared to display the sign during the broadcast, officials with the two military academies told The Wall Street Journal. The gesture was seen during an ESPN broadcast segment.

School officials are trying to determine what the hand signals were meant to convey, they said.

“We’re looking into it,” Lt. Col. Chris Ophardt, a spokesperson for the US Military Academy at West Point in New York, told the Journal. “I don’t know what their intention is.”

“We are aware and will be looking into it,” said Cmdr. Alana Garas, a spokesperson for the US Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Maryland.

The Pentagon didn’t immediately respond to the Journal’s request for comment.

The hand sign is similar to the one often used to indicate “OK,” but the Anti-Defamation League says it has lately been used as an extremist meme, in part because of its ambiguity.

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

US President Donald Trump watches the game with members of the Navy during the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 14, 2019. (Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

The annual game was attended by US President Donald Trump, Pentagon Chief Mark Esper and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley. The president was on the field for the coin toss.

US President Donald Trump tosses the coin before the Army v. Navy American Football game in Philadelphia on December 14, 2019. (Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

The crowd cheered as Trump walked off the field after the national anthem. He put on a red Keep America Great hat.

Trump emerged during the first half and sat on the Army side of the field, near the 50-yard line. There were sporadic shouts of “Trump!” and “Let’s go Trump!”

He crossed the field to the Navy side for the second half and left in the third quarter to return to Washington for an evening fundraiser at his hotel.

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