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Monday, 15 March 2021 23:00

Wadesboro officer under investigation for flashing controversial hand sign in photo

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Tom and Lisa Luckey flash the “O.K.” sign upside down while posing for a photo with their son Cale during the Raiders soccer team Senior Night. Tom and Lisa Luckey flash the “O.K.” sign upside down while posing for a photo with their son Cale during the Raiders soccer team Senior Night. RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — A Wadesboro Police officer who lives in Richmond County is under investigation after a photo of him and his wife flashing a hand sign in a photo with their son causes controversy.


“The Town is very much aware of the photograph circulating that concerns one of our police officers, and we are actively investigating the nature of the incident,” Wadesboro Town Manager David Edwards told the RO in an email on Monday.

The RO on Friday attempted to contact both Edwards and Wadesboro Police Chief Thedis Spencer after other media outlets reported on Luckey’s suspension.

Tom Luckey, who works with the Wadesboro Police Department, and wife Lisa flashed the “O.K.” sign upside down last Monday evening while posing for a photo with their son Cale during the Raiders soccer team Senior Night.

Some people in both Richmond and Anson counties have said it’s a symbol of white supremacy, multiple media outlets have reported.

WSOC reported that several people, including Anson County Commissioner Vancine Sturdivant, said there have been several racial allegations made against the officer in the past.

Luckey says that they were playing the “Circle Game” to get back at their son for flashing the same symbol in sports photos since middle school.

While the Anti-Defamation League does list the hand sign as a hate symbol — with roots as a hoax on 4chan — it urges that “particular caution must be used when evaluating this symbol.” 

“Since 2017, many people have been falsely accused of being racist or white supremacist for using the ‘okay’ gesture in its traditional and innocuous sense,” the ADL says on its website.

“Other, similar-seeming hand gestures have also been mistakenly assumed to have white supremacist connotations as a result of the ‘okay’ hoax. One of these is the so-called ‘Circle Game,” in which people attempt to trick each other into looking at an okay-like hand gesture made somewhere below the waist.’

Many residents on social media have come to the Luckeys’ defense, recognizing it as a game still played by some adults.

In the photo, the Luckeys are holding their hands around waist level with the circle at the top and their free fingers pointing toward the ground, the way the “Circle Game” is generally played. However, the ADL’s demonstration has the outstretched fingers pointing up to seemingly form the letters “W” and “P” for "white power."

“We will be thorough in our investigation, as the sensitive nature of this issue is one that we want to be certain of before making any conclusions,” Edwards said. “We hope that the community understands that we take allegations like this very seriously and that we hold all of our employees to the highest standards. Officer Luckey is currently on paid administrative leave during the time of this investigation, as is standard with all internal investigations.”

 

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