This week, there was public outrage after a photo went viral apparently showing a group of white high school boys giving a Nazi salute on the steps of a county courthouse in Central Wisconsin. Now, the parent who took the picture says it’s all one big misunderstanding.
Tuesday, photographer Pete Gust, whose son is also included in the shot, was featured on Good Morning America and explained that the 60 boys standing outside the Sauk County Courthouse in Baraboo last spring, innocently had their arms extended to wave goodbye.
“There was nothing intended in any way shape or form to simulate anything that was offensive to anyone,” Gust told The Associated Press. “If there’s any error, it was me in timing the shot.”
Some are skeptical about this explanation given that Gust has had the photo posted on his business website since it was taken last May, questioning why he didn’t notice at some point that the young men all appeared to be throwing up a Sig Heil salute in the prom photo.
He insists that reference went over his head, and only decided to remove the picture on Monday after it started circulating on social media, prompting criticism from the public and a few Jewish organizations.
“To anyone that was hurt I sincerely apologize,” Gust wrote on his website.
If anybody from Baraboo High School in Wisconsin can clue me in on why it appears the entire male class of 2018 is throwing up a Sig Heil during their prom photos – that would be great.
— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) November 12, 2018
Jordan Blue, one of the few boys in the picture who didn’t raise his arm, says he believes some of the students actually did intend to make the Nazi salute.
“It was very disrespectful to what my beliefs are,” Blue told the CBS News. “It was a very bad representation of the senior class and the Baraboo School District, because by all means, the Baraboo School District does not support that kind of actions and it is a district that provides many opportunities for the students. This is something that I will never forget.”
Since it has come to their attention, the Baraboo school district has called in local police to help them investigate the incident.
“If the gesture is what it appears to be, the district will pursue any and all available and appropriate actions, including legal, to address the issue,” district Superintendent Lori Mueller said Monday in a letter to parents.