Three West Coast Eagles players thought they would have a laugh in a post-match team photo, but inadvertently did a white power symbol instead.
The three players – Jack Redden, Alex Witherden and Jamaine Jones made an upside down OK sign, a symbol that has been co-opted by white supremacist groups. However, it’s also used in the circle game, where looking at the symbol means getting punched.
A West Coast spokesperson confirmed they were playing the circle game, calling it “juvenile.” But are yet to take the actual photo down.
“We have asked questions and it is all to do with the circle game,” the spokesperson told The West Australian.
“It’s juvenile and should not have been a part of the post-game photo.”
What started as a 4chan hoax has quickly become extremely dangerous, with alt-right terrorists like Brenton Tarrant (Christchurch mosque shooter) using it at his trial in 2019. The OK symbol is a way for white supremacists to signal each other, and has now become a “sincere expression of white supremacy” according to the Anti Defamation League.
A number high-profile members of the far right have also publicly used the symbol, like Milo Yiannopulos and Donald Trump’s political advisor, Roger Stone. Because of its subtlety, it’s not always easy to detect, making it hard to prove if people are doing it.
In 2018, a US Coast Guard officer was actually suspended for using the sign on camera during a television broadcast.
With right wing extremism and white supremacy on the rise in Australia, it’s concerning that people still don’t understand how dangerous using a symbol like that can be in 2021.
“Right-wing violent extremism…occupies approximately between 30 and 40% of ASIO’s current caseload in counter-terrorism work … an increase from 10 to 15% prior to 2016,” Deputy director general of ASIO Heather Cook said.