A video from President Donald Trump's recent rally shows a supporter flashing what appears to be a "White power" hand sign over his shoulder. The clip comes from Florida, according to a report by TMZ, and it shows a man intentionally making a variation of the "ok" symbol with his hand. Over the last few years, this sign has become associated with racism in certain contexts — thanks largely to the president.
The infamous hand sign is causing a stir on social media this weekend, with viewers speculating that the man is a member of the Proud Boys. He is wearing a hat with yellow print, which is reportedly associated with the far-right extremist group. There is little doubt that this was intentional, as the man was looking right at the camera and making sure that his gesture was seen, holding his hand right beside the president's head in the shot again and again.
The guy behind Trump is still throwing up the white power sign. You'd think perhaps a campaign official would notice and at least get the guy off camera, but no. pic.twitter.com/dkphWWAZ6U— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 23, 2020
The man's hand gesture was officially classified as a symbol of "Hate on Display" by the Anti-Defamation League last fall, according to a report by NPR. The gesture was adopted by White supremacist groups in 2017 because of the president's penchant for making the sign during speeches.
"Context is always key," said Oren Segal, director of the ADL's Center on Extremism. "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."
This new controversy comes amid the president's resistance to condemning White supremacists openly over the last few weeks on the campaign trail. Trump came under fire for hesitating to denounce the Proud Boys and other far-right militia groups at the first presidential debate, instead of deflecting blame to far-left groups that are not organized in the same way.
Trump's refusal to condemn these groups not only set him apart from his political opponents but from his own federal law enforcement agencies. On Friday, the FBI announced that it had been investigating the "Boogaloo Bois" — another militia group — for allegedly inciting a riot in Minneapolis, Minnesota back in May and blaming it on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Federal authorities have arrested at least two members of the group and warned that they are a growing threat of domestic terrorism. In the same week, a gesture from one of these groups seems to have appeared beside the president's head at a campaign rally.