Gunman’s cruel hand gesture in court
As suspected mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant appeared in court in New Zealand on Saturday, he made a symbol with his hands that added to the outrage he's already caused.
The 28-year-old, who is accused of murdering 50 people during a shooting rampage in Christchurch on Friday, appeared unrepentant and smirked inside the courtroom as he gave an upside down "OK" symbol with his right hand.
The hand gesture, often accompanied by a smirk, is associated with white power groups.
The middle, ring and pinky fingers is said to represent a 'W' (white) and the thumb and forefinger come together to represent a 'P' (power).
But even though some white supremacists do use the gesture, there's a fair chance they're doing it just to troll the rest of us.
HOW IT BEGAN
It's unclear how the hand gesture first became associated with white supremacists. Members of the alt-right started using the 'OK' symbol in 2016 and Milo Yiannopoulos was photographed making the gesture out the front of the White House that year.
Then, in 2017, 4chan users came up with a hoax they called 'Operation O-KKK' which encouraged people to spread that the hand gesture is a white supremacist signal.
"We must flood twitter and other social media websites with spam, claiming that the OK hand signal is a symbol of white supremacy," the 4chan post said.
"Make fake accounts with basic white girl names and type s**t like: OMG that's so truuuuu …
"Leftists have dug so deep down into their lunacy. We must force (them) to dig more, until the rest of society ain't going anywhere near that s**t."
WHAT'S THE INTENT?
Do people who make the 'OK' symbol in photos do it to reveal their racist beliefs, are they simply doing it to convey that everything's 'OK' or are they doing it "ironically" in an attempt to troll people?
Salon.com's political writer Amanda Marcotte tweeted last year: "Part of the problem is that if, hypothetically, someone flashed white supremacist symbols at the camera, the point of the stunt would be to get liberals wound up, so they can then claim that liberals are just imagining things.
"That was what the OK symbol was literally invented to do: Both serve at a white supremacist symbol and also one that is just ordinary-enough looking that when liberals expressed outrage, the white supremacist could play the victim of liberal hysteria."
David Neiwert from the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote last year that when someone flashes the 'OK' sign accompanied by a smirk, "It's not just a harmless act that can be dismissed".
"It may or may not mean that they are a white nationalist attempting a sly signal. But the sign unquestionably identifies the user as one thing: a troll," he wrote.
WHO HAS USED THE 'OK' SYMBOL?
Mark Pitcavage from the Anti-Defamation League stressed last year that just because someone makes the 'OK' symbol doesn't mean they're a white supremacist.
"No one should assume anything about the use of such a gesture unless there are other unmistakeable white supremacist signifiers in that context as well," he tweeted.
But regardless of his advice, it appears the gesture is now generally considered offensive.
In September last year a member of the US Coast Guard was "reassigned" after he made the gesture in the background of a TV news cross even though his intent was unclear.
"As to the individual's intent, we are unsure, but he demonstrated exceptionally poor judgment regardless," Coast Guard Lt. Amy Midgett told Mic.com after the incident.
In July last year four police officers in Alabama made the 'OK' symbol in a newspaper photo. As a result, training and operations for the entire tactical team was suspended and an investigation was launched into their intentions.
"I don't believe they meant any ill will toward the community that we were in at that time but they were not very sensitive to the community we were in at that time," Jasper Police Chief J.C. Poe told Al.com.
A White House intern sparked outrage in 2017 when he made the 'OK' symbol in a group photo. But the intern, Jack Breuer, denied it was a racist gesture and was simply copying Donald Trump.
"In some of our intern pictures, I emulated the 'OK' sign the President sometimes makes,' he told The Daily Caller. "That was foolish. I should have listened more closely to the Commander-in-Chief and given the thumbs up.
"I'm proud of my Jewish heritage and strongly reject the hateful views associated with racist white power organisations. I would never make common cause with them."