‘It’s a kid game. Going around and hitting everybody when you see it…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) Four Alabama police officers have been suspended without pay for making circle gestures with their hands in the shape of the commonly recognized “OK” sign.
Young boys also configure the gesture as part of the “circle game,” where someone tricks someone else into looking at their hand circle below their waste resulting in a playful sock in the arm.
But according to Jasper, Ala. Mayor David O’Mary, the circle gesture is racist.
“That’s contradictory to how we run our city. That’s not our mindset. That’s not the way we do things and they used poor judgment,” he said.
O’Mary said the decision to discipline the officers was based on some complaints that the gestures were really meant to express “white power.”
The hand circles can be seen in a photo published in the Daily Mountain Eagle last week, where the officers — members of the Jasper Police Department’s drug terrorism task force — posed after a successful drug bust.
O’Mary appeared on site after the officers took down a major local drug dealer and sang the officers’ praises.
“It is a successful operation that reflects on the commitment of our police department,” O’Mary told reporters.“When we have situations like this, I’m going to be on the ground supporting our people.”
O’Mary said he organized the photo because he wanted the officers to get credit for their dangerous work.
But after several complaints, he changed his tune.
A Jasper news station interviewed multiple area residents about the incident, and many saw the circle game suspensions as an overreaction.
“It’s a kid game. Going around and hitting everybody when you see it,” a man told ABC 33/40 News in downtown Jasper after viewing the photo.
The officers’ names have not been released. They were suspended for two weeks, one being without pay.
O’Mary said he spoke to two African-American police officers, who he claims said the suspensions were fair.