WASHINGTON - The D.C. Fire and EMS Department has launched an internal investigation after a photo surfaced Wednesday of a recruit class in which some of the members are making what appears to be an OK sign with their hands.
The signal has traditionally been seen as a symbol of understanding or an affirmative reply, but according to the Anti-Defamation League was claimed by white supremacists as a sign of hate.
DCFEMS is investigating the intent of those in the photo, which the department says was taken in March.
A source who spoke to someone in the photo tells FOX 5 the group, which often joked around, played the circle game on multiple occasions. The game, often associated with children, allows someone to hit another person who looks into the circle formed by someone's hand below their waist.
The source says the recruits were playing the game just before someone took the photo.
The hand signal was in the news in December after some midshipmen flashed it during the Army-Navy football game. The military determined the gesture did not have racist intent.
The ADL says on its website, "...because of the traditional meaning of the “okay” hand gesture, as well as other usages unrelated to white supremacy, particular care must be taken not to jump to conclusions about the intent behind someone who has used the gesture."
In a statement to FOX 5 DCFEMS said:
"The DC Fire and EMS Department was made aware of this picture today. The photograph is those attached to Recruit Class 387 and their instructors. Recruit Class 387 graduated in April of 2019, and it is believed the picture was taken in March of 2019. The Department has immediately initiated an internal review of the photograph, which may include interviews with everyone pictured in the photograph."