The US Coast Guard has "removed" one of its members from the Hurricane Florence response team after he allegedly made a "white power" hand signal during a live TV broadcast.
The unidentified team member was caught looking into the camera and then swiftly making the hand gesture, prompting a backlash on social media. "Well, no, it hasn't, but you are likely to hear just the opposite from social media, thanks to the latest hoax from members of notorious website 4chan", read a post from the anti-racism group. In a statement, the agency said the incident was a "frustrating distraction" amid the unsafe hurricane that is poised to affect more than 10 million people this week in the Southeast. Others were offended because they connect the gesture to President Donald Trump and conservatives.
The gesture was made by a seated person visible in the background over the right shoulder of Sector Charleston Commanding Officer Capt. John Reed, who was being interviewed on MSNBC's "Live with Ali Velshi" to update viewers on the Coast Guard's response to Hurricane Florence.
The agency immediately responded to the outcry and distanced from the controversy.
"Whatever that symbol means, it doesn't reflect the Coast Guard and our core values", said Coast Guard Lt. J.B.
"This is a frustrating distraction for the Coast Guard during our hurricane response".
Coast Guard officials wouldn't identify the man and declined to discuss possible disciplinary action.
At last count, the storm has caused seven deaths and left more than 1 million people without power.
The Anti-Defamation League previously noted that the "OK" gesture isn't a hate symbol.
"Has the simple thumb-and-forefinger "OK" hand gesture become a white supremacist hand sign?" It also can carry a vulgar connotation in some overseas cultures.
In other circles, the hand signal is viewed as an occult representation of 666 or the Antichrist. The most benign meaning of the gesture is that it simply communicates everything is OK or good.