Montel Williams defends West Point, Navy students’ ‘OK’ hand gesture – Business Insider

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TV host Montel Williams defends West Point and Navy students making ‚OK‘ hand gesture: The media ‚branded these young people as racists without a shred of evidence‘

  • Former TV host Montel Williams, a US Naval Academy graduate, called for the public’s patience amid the US Army and Navy’s investigations into the alleged use of white supremacist gestures from its cadets and midshipmen during the annual Army-Navy football game.
  • „Both West Point and Annapolis are investigating, and it strikes me as defamatory that some in the media have branded these young people as racists without a shred of evidence,“ Williams said in a statement on Monday. „I understand that a handful of racists (perhaps living in their parents‘ basements) attempted to co-opt the ‚okay‘ sign as a symbol of white power … but that is not evidence that these kids were motivated by racial animus.“
  • „We owe these young people, who had the courage to sign up to be part of the 1% who defend this democracy, better than this,“ Williams added.
  • Some people accused the service members as being sympathetic to the pervasive white supremacist movement; while others attributed the gesture to a childish game from immature troops.
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Former TV host Montel Williams, a retired US Marine and US Naval Academy graduate, called for the public’s patience amid the US Army and Navy’s investigations into the alleged use of white supremacist gestures from its cadets and midshipmen during the annual Army-Navy football game on Saturday.

Both the Naval Academy and West Point have launched internal investigations after several students were seen making hand gestures that some people interpreted as a symbol of white nationalism. The students were seen making the gestures while in uniform during a live-broadcast of the service’s 120th annual football game.

The gestures were immediately scrutinized following the broadcast, with some people accusing the service members as being sympathetic to the pervasive white supremacist movement; while others attributed the gesture to a childish game from immature troops.

The Anti-Defamation League considers the hand signal, also known as the „OK“ gesture, as being used „by a variety of figures on the far right, including some well-known white supremacists,“ but also adds that „it is important to realize that the … gesture is a nearly universal hand gesture and most usage of it is completely innocuous.“

Williams, who was an enlisted Marine before attending the Naval Academy to become a Navy officer, described the cadets and midshipmen as being „hyped-up“ in the game, and said it was unjust to accuse them of holding ties to white supremacist groups prior to the investigation’s findings.

„Both West Point and Annapolis are investigating, and it strikes me as defamatory that some in the media have branded these young people as racists without a shred of evidence,“ Williams said in a statement on Monday. „I understand that a handful of racists (perhaps living in their parents‘ basements) attempted to co-opt the ‚okay‘ sign as a symbol of white power … but that is not evidence that these kids were motivated by racial animus.“

„Until the investigation is complete, we should all pause and realize that branding someone a racist is an indictment of their soul,“ Williams added. „We owe these young people, who had the courage to sign up to be part of the 1% who defend this democracy, better than this.“

The incident was not the first time the hand gesture was spotted at a sporting event. In May, the Chicago Cubs organization banned a baseball fan from attending its games „indefinitely“ after he made the gesture behind a black, baseball analyst.

The Cubs‘ president, Crane Kenney, said the gesture was „associated with racism,“ and that „such ignorant and repulsive behavior is not tolerated at Wrigley Field.“

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