The U.S. Coast Guard announced Friday night that a Coast Guard member had been removed from the Hurricane Florence response after he was seen making an "offensive" sign on television.
Some said it was inappropriate simply because of the seriousness of the hurricane. The government agency quickly responded and distanced itself.
"We are aware of the offensive video on Twitter - the Coast Guard has identified the member and removed him from the response", the agency wrote on Twitter.
The Coast Guard has been at the forefront of rescue operations in the Carolinas, where at least five people have died since the storm reached the coastline Friday morning. Which leaves it uncertain: Is this an online joke or a white-power symbol-or did one become the other?
In a statement provided to Buzzfeed News, the Coast Guard called the incident a "frustrating distraction. during our hurricane response" and said that "these types of actions are not reflective of the core values of the Coast Guard". This person has been removed from the response pending an investigation. "His actions do not reflect those of the United States Coast Guard". While it has been adopted by some fringe far-right figures, it has also been commonly used by many Trump supporters. Additionally, the "OK" sign is also tied to the "circle game", which is a viral meme that involves someone flashing an upside down "OK" gesture so they can get viewers to look at their hand, therefore winning the "game".
Outrage followed on social media.
U.S. Attorney John Bash, her husband, defended Bash: "The attacks today on my wife are repulsive. We weren't even familiar with the hateful symbol being attributed to her for the random way she rested her hand during a long hearing", the tweeted, noting that Bash's grandparents are Holocaust survivors.