NSW Police have denied that an officer flashed a “white power” gesture during a Black Lives Matter rally in Sydney’s CBD, claiming he was making an inoffensive hand signal.
Photos and videos posted to social media on Saturday depict an officer making an ‘OK’ gesture with his thumb and index finger.
While the gesture is generally accepted to be an expression of approval or agreement, it has been co-opted over the last several years by right-wing extremists.
The person posting the video to Twitter captioned the image: “Photo from earlier tonight @nswpolice throwing white power to the camera.”
The videos shows the officer, walking with a large group of colleagues, making the symbol as he walks across the intersection of Pitt and Park Streets in the Sydney CBD.
However NSW Police said the officer was not intentionally making an offensive gesture and did not know it had other connotations.
“The officer indicated he was responding to a group of women about the night being ‘OK’ and used a hand symbol as he was wearing a face mask,” a NSW Police spokesperson said.
“He did not know the gesture had any other meaning”.
“The NSW Police Force works closely to foster a strong and cohesive partnership with Aboriginal communities and other groups and does not appreciate irresponsible inflammatory commentary in this space.”
According to the American-based Anti-Defamation League’s website, the ‘OK gesture’ has been: “appropriated as a symbol meaning ‘white power’.
“Used by many on the right – not just extremists – for the purpose of trolling liberals, the symbol eventually came to be used by actual white supremacists as well.”
However the group also warned that: “caution must be used in evaluating instances of this symbol’s use”.
It is the second time in a year an Australian police officer has been captured making the symbol, after a similar instance in Melbourne in November 2019.
Around 300 protesters showed up to Friday night’s Black Lives Matter rally in the Sydney CB, and were out-numbered two-to-one by a strong police presence.
The rally moved from Town Hall to Hyde Park after being ordered to move-on by police.
A 24-year-old woman was fined $1000 for failing to obey police direction.