ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - New Prague Area Schools is under fire for racist behavior again after its fan section flashed a known hate symbol on the big screen of the boys hockey state hockey tournament Wednesday night.
The upper elementary students were unaware their hand gestures made at the state tournament Wednesday signaled white supremacy, the Minnesota State High School League and New Prague school district say.
The hand gesture was made several times by multiple students on the big screen behind New Prague Trojans head coach Brad Drazan while he was being announced. Watch the moment on the video below.
The league says MSHSL officials immediately contacted New Prague administrators onsite, who quickly identified the students who made the gesture. MSHSL said the students were unaware of the meaning.
"This hand gesture has multiple meanings including signifying white supremacy," MSHSL wrote.
This comes only weeks after two Twin Cities area school districts canceled all basketball games with New Prague due to alleged fan racism. But New Prague Superintendent Tim Dittberner says they have no reason to believe the students knew it could signify white supremacy.
"While we know this is very upsetting to many, please be assured we feel confident that the students were not intending to send a message of white supremacy when they made the gesture," Dittberner wrote.
The MSHSL became aware of hand gestures that were caught on camera at the MSHSL Boys Hockey State Tournament on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. This hand gesture has multiple meanings including signifying white supremacy. MSHSL Officials immediately contacted New Prague school administration who were onsite and promptly identified the upper elementary students responsible for the gesture. The students were unaware of this meaning. New Prague took action to appropriately address this behavior with students. The MSHSL condemns all actions that are intended to cause racial harm in any way and continues to work directly with member schools to best represent the mission and beliefs of MSHSL.
New Prague schools statement
Superintendent Tim Dittberner of New Prague Area Schools released this statement Wednesday night:
Tonight at the boys state hockey tournament two New Prague upper elementary students made the "ok" hand gesture. In addition to being the "ok" hand gesture, it can be used to signify white supremacy. School administration addressed the situation immediately after they were made aware of the situation. When questioned, the students did not understand what the signal meant. They were mimicking something they saw at an earlier hockey game on the big screen. We have no reason to believe they knew it could signify white supremacy. While we know this is very upsetting to many, please be assured we feel confident that the students were not intending to send a message of white supremacy when they made the gesture.
'OK' hand gesture in hate symbols database
In 2019, the Anti-Defamation League added the symbols to its online "Hate on Display" database, which already includes burning crosses, Ku Klux Klan robes, the swastika and many other of the most notorious and overt symbols of racism and anti-Semitism.