Folks are kind of flummoxed by a photo taken at the junior prom of Wisconsin's Baraboo High School showing the class's male students doing a 'sig heil.'
Law & Crime points out the event was last spring, but the photo just came to light when it was posted to the Twitter account @GoBaraboo that has since been been made private.
It was shared with the caption, “We even got the black kid to throw it up #BarabooProud.”
One guy in the front was clearly doing the sign for white power:
Vice contributor Jules Suzdaltsev asked Twitter to help him do a deep dive into the matter, and he began getting private messages from students at the school saying they had seen and heard a lot of racist language while attending the school.
One student who graduated from BHS this spring wrote Suzdaltsev saying he could "100% support the claims of racism at that school."
"The use of the n-word was pretty common among a lot of white students, whether jokingly or not," he added.
Another told Suzdaltsev that the day after Donald Trump was elected, students were yelling "White Power!" in the hallways.
Folks did note that one student, in the upper right hand corner of the photo, was clearly not having the moment.
Suzdaltsev spoke with the student, who says his name is Jordan Blue, who said the photo was taken so quickly he couldn't leave. But he also shared that he'd been bullied by his classmates for years.
"My name is Jordan Blue, I am the boy captured in the photo to the far right. The photo was taken during our Junior Prom Photos. I clearly am uncomfortable, with what was happening. I couldn't leave the photo as it was taken within 5 seconds. The photographer took the photos telling us to make the sign, I knew what my morals were and it not to salute something I firmly didn't believe in. I attend BHS, these classmates have bullied me since entering middle school, I have struggled with it my entire life and nothing has changed. These are the boy of Class of 2019, nothing has been done and my question is... with anything ever be done. I truly & firmly believe we need to make a change to this horrible act, it need to stop. Bullying. Immaturity. And just taking things as a "joke"..."
According to Suzdaltsev, the photographer (identified as local motorcycle photographer Peter Gust) has taken the photo album down from his website and issued an odd message calling out "malevolent behavior on the part of some in society." He seems to be blaming the scandal on folks taking issue with the idea of telling students to do a Nazi salute.
The photo has even received international attention as the Twitter account for the Auschwitz Memorial tweeted, "This is why every single day we work hard to educate."
Baraboo School District Superintendent Dr. Lori Mueller issued this statement:
The Barabook School District sent the following letter to parents this morning in response to a photo on social media.
Dear Parents/Guardians of Baraboo School District Students:
Early this morning, a photo that was taken last spring of some Barabook School District students who appear to be making extremely inappropriate gestures began circulating on social media. The District has confirmed at this time that the photo was not taken on school property or at a school-sponsored event.
The school district is investigating this situation and is working with parents, staff and local authorities. 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.
With that, we want to be very clear: the Baraboo School District is a hate-free environment where all people, regardless of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin or ancestry, are respected and celebrated.
Dr. Lori Mueller, Superintendent