WATERVILLE – A Waterville firefighter briefly was attacked over the past day by “woke” activists for what they said was an offensive or racist hand symbol in an official group photo of the members of the fire department.
After a news story from the Bangor Daily News called the hand gesture an “apparent white power symbol” and quoted the Waterville’s Fire Chief condemning any racist hand gestures and saying he would investigate the incident, it turns out the firefighter had suffered a hand injury earlier in the day.
The hand gesture is the same as the “okay” gesture where the thumb and forefinger form a circle. The gesture is also one that has been used for decades among American youth in the “circle game” or “made you look”, where one person tries to get another to look at their fingers in the shape of a circle below the waist. If a person looks, they get punched in the shoulder.
Most of the comments on social media were critical of the new “woke” culture among some in America that look for incidents such as this. Many also said it looked identical to other innocuous symbols they have seen since childhood.
The story of the “ok” symbol being labeled a symbol of racism traces back to a group of users on a website that intentionally created a hoax around the symbol to demonstrate the gullibility of the mainstream media in 2017.
Either way, thanks to a statement from the Waterville Fire Chief, we now know that the hand gesture was the result of a training injury.
Waterville Fire Chief Shawn Esler said in a written statement that they interviewed the firefighter who made the gesture and other members who were in the photo. The firefighter at the center of the controversy made the gesture unknowingly, he said. Esler also said they had talked to the Waterville Police Department. They have no reason to believe the gesture was anything but the result of the training injury.
“In summary, a firefighter was injured during routine training, not a joke, horseplay or extremist intent,” said Chief Esler.