Military academies probe possible 'white power' signs before Army-Navy game

Army cadets salute ahead of an NCAA college football game against Navy, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The U.S. Military Academy and Naval Academy have launched separate investigations into possible “white power” hand gestures flashed by a few students at the Army-Navy football game.

Public affairs officers at both academies said via email Sunday that officers have been appointed to conduct internal investigations and determine if disciplinary action is needed.

Several West Point cadets and Naval Academy midshipmen in the stands appeared to display the hand signal during an ESPN broadcast segment Saturday.

The gesture is similar to the “OK” hand sign. The three fingers extended is supposed to be a "W" and the circle coming off the arm is a "P" -- "WP" for "white power."

U.S. Coast Guard leaders reprimanded an officer who used a similar hand sign during a television broadcast last year.

Some on social media argued on social media that the cadets were simply saying "OK." Others argue they were playing the "Circle Game," which uses the same symbol. But in that game, the idea is to hold the "OK" below your waist to convince a second person to look at it. If the other person looks, they get punched in the shoulder.

The Anti-Defamation League says use of the symbol to express white power started popping up in 2017. But the group also says that since there are several meanings for it, including saying "OK," "Three Percenter" or the "Circle Game," care must be taken in determining how someone intended to use it.

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