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West Point: Army-Navy attendees were playing a game, not making white power sign

Football players lined up before the ball is snapped.
Army prepares to snap the ball against Navy during the Army-Navy game in Dec. 2018. Photo: Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

An internal investigation has determined that two West Point cadets and a Naval Academy midshipman who displayed hand gestures in the stands on ESPN's pre-game coverage of the Army-Navy football game on Dec. 14 were playing a known game and did not have racist intentions, West Point Public Affairs announced on Friday.

Details: The “OK” hand gesture is the same as a symbol used by white supremacists to "signal their presence to the like-minded, as well as to identify potentially sympathetic recruits among young trolling artists flashing it," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The sign took on the new meaning around 2017 when it was co-opted by online trolls and later white supremacists, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

What they're saying: West Point says the students were playing the popular "circle game," in which someone makes a circle with their hand and holds it below their waist in an attempt to get another person to look at it.

  • "We are disappointed by the immature behavior of the cadets,” said Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams of West Point.
  • West Point said the cadets will "receive appropriate administrative and/or disciplinary actions."

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