United Kingdom

NYPD officer flashes white power hand gesture and laughs about it during George Floyd protests

A New York Police Department officer was filmed making a hand gesture that some say is a ‘white power’ sign while patrolling during protests in Manhattan on Saturday.

Chad Loder, a Twitter user, posted the video showing a helmeted officer holding what appears to be a baton in one hand while on duty in Union Square, site of a massive protest in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

In the brief, four-second clip, the officer then raises his other hand and gestures by joining his thumb and index finger while stretching out the other three fingers.

The hand symbol, once innocuous and typically meaning 'OK', was initially associated with 'white power' as an online joke, but has since been adopted by fringe racist figures.

A New York Police Department officer was filmed making a hand gesture that is considered by some to be a symbol for white power

The officer on the right made the gesture while on duty during demonstrations near Union Square in Manhattan on Saturday

In the brief video clip, the officer is seen laughing with a colleague on Saturday

The officer in the clip lets out a laugh while another officer nearby looks on in approval.

DailyMail.com has reached out to the NYPD asking for comment.

How the 'OK' sign came to be associated with white supremacy

The historic hand sign for OK - touching the forefinger to thumb with other three fingers raised - is a formerly innocent symbol that has recently been co-opted by the far right. 

The symbol's co-option by racists began as a joke on far-right messaging site 4Chan - where users took an innocent gesture and pretended there was a hidden meaning behind it, hoping to trick left-leaning people into outrage. 

But the joke escalated and soon the symbol was being widely used among far-right extremists, leading some people to conclude it has changed its meaning. 

The 'OK' hand gesture (left) is now sometimes associated with white supremacy despite its usually innocent meaning. Brenton Tarrant, the Australian man arrested for killing 51 people at mosques in New Zealand earlier this year, is seen right making the gesture in court in March

Conservative Viner Pizza Party Ben and the alt-right's former pin-up boy Milo Yiannopoulos began making the gesture at various campaign events for Donald Trump in the lead up to the 2016 election.

White supremacist Richard Spencer also flashed the sign on election night in 2016 in front of a Trump Hotel with the caption 'Tonight's the night.'

The symbol has continued to be used, including allegedly by White House intern Jack Breuer in 2017, photographed making the OK sign in his class photo, who claimed he was copying the president's gesture of touching his index finger and thumb while speaking. 

The popular emoji has been registered as a hate symbol by the US-based Anti-Defamation League, but the group warned it is still 'overwhelmingly' used to show approval or that someone is OK. 

Others use it as part of a 'circle game' created on US TV show Malcolm in the Middle, which involves someone making the gesture and holding it below their waist. If someone else looks at it, they get a punch in the arm.   

A similar gesture is used in the so-called 'circle game,' in which the person making the gesture tries to trick someone into looking at it, and if successful gets to punch the onlooker in the arm.

However, the ambiguous nature of the gesture is part of the appeal to extremists, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

In December, US military officials at West Point and the US Naval Academy in Annapolis launched an investigation after several cadets and midshipmen were seen flashing the sign at the Army-Navy football game.

Students at both service academies were seen appearing to flash the controversial hand symbol during a pregame sideline report from journalist Rece Davis on an ESPN broadcast.

Days after the broadcast, the military wrapped up its probe, concluding that the symbol was made as part of a ‘circle game’ and not as a statement advocating for white supremacy.

In 2018, US Coast Guard leaders reprimanded an officer who used a similar hand sign during a television broadcast.

Several videos show two NYPD squad cars ramming into multiple protesters in Brooklyn on Saturday

When a second squad car arrives on scene, it runs into several people who struggle to get out of the way

People were pushed out of the way as a second police car arrived on the scene 

The demonstrators were standing directly in front of the vehicles at the time and put up a barricade

That same year, four Alabama police officers were suspended for two weeks and docked a week’s pay after they were seen making the gesture in a newspaper photograph.

After the Army-Navy broadcast, many spoke up saying that they were certain the gesture was intended as a brazen display of racist white supremacy.

'They did this because they fully understand that most people in the dominant society share their views, and there will be no serious punishment against them,' tweeted Tariq Nasheed.

'Anyone trying to deny that this is a white power hand signal, are most likely to be white supremacist themselves,' Nasheed added.

New York City is among dozens of cities nationwide that have been roiled in recent days by mass demonstrations after the police-involved death of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man whose violent arrest was captured on amateur video and went viral on social media.

A Minneapolis police officer, 44-year-old Derek Chauvin, was seen pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck as he lay helpless and handcuffed near a police cruiser on the street on Monday.

The incident has sparked anger across the country. Mass protests in dozens of cities have devolved into rioting, arson, and looting in recent days.

The NYPD has come under scrutiny after several incidents of police officers using excessive force against protesters went viral on social media.

In Brooklyn, the drivers of two police SUVs rammed into a crowd of protesters blocking the road in Flatbush.

Protesters had massed behind a metal barricade in the middle of the street. Some of them threw objects at one of the police cruisers, including bottles, traffic cones and bags of trash.

A second NYPD cruiser then pulled alongside the first but appeared to be in a rush to push through the crowds.

An NYPD officer who was filmed violently shoving a female protester to the ground in Brooklyn on Friday is under investigation. He has not been identified 

The woman shown been violently flung to the ground by an NYPD officer was identified by those at the scene as Dounya Zayer, who later posted about the attack from hospital

Those gathered swarmed the second patrol car which then, without warning, suddenly began to accelerate.

At least three people were pushed to the side and almost run over and the police car drove on down the street.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the incident is under investigation, but emphasized that the officers may have had no other choice.

'I'm not going to blame officers who were trying to deal with an absolutely impossible situation. The folks who were converging on that police car did the wrong thing to begin with, and they created an untenable situation,' he said. 'I wish the officers had found a different approach, but let's begin at the beginning. The protesters in that video did the wrong thing to surround that police car, period.

'People who represent the communities of our city and the residents of our city are not joining negative and violent protests,' de Blasio said.

Earlier on Saturday, the NYPD said an officer is under investigation after he was filmed violently shoving a female protester to the ground during a George Floyd protest in Brooklyn that saw 200 people arrested.

The cop, who has not been identified, was seen forcefully pushing Dounya Zayer, 20, and sending her flying onto the pavement during a demonstration near Barclay's Center on Friday night.

Zayer later shared videos of herself from the hospital claiming she suffered a violent seizure from the attack and said she was 'in no way aggressive' towards the officer.

An NYPD spokesperson confirmed on Saturday that they are aware of the video circulating on social media and that it is 'under internal review.'

It was first shared by Newsweek reporter Jason Lemon who claimed that the officer called the woman a 'stupid f*****g b***h' before shoving her.

Another video from Saturday shows the moments an NYPD officer appears to yank down a protester's coronavirus mask to pepper spray the man.

The unnamed protester in one video, which was posted by Anju J. Rupchandani on Twitter saying he was a 'family member', was holding his hands up and lowers them when his mask is pulled down by an officer for unknown reasons.

That's when the man is pepper sprayed in the footage and walks away clearly affected.

'I am heartbroken and disgusted to see one of my family members a young black man w/his hands up peacefully protesting and an NYPD officer pulls down his mask and pepper sprays him,' wrote Rupchandani under the handle @AJRupchandani. 

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