A Chicago Cubs fan caught flashing a “white power” hand gesture behind a Black sportscaster live on-air Tuesday has been “definitely” banned from Wrigley Field, the franchise announced Wednesday.
The fan, seen sporting a plush Cub’s sweatshirt, had his face hidden during NBC Sports’ Tuesday evening broadcast of the Cubs’ home game against the Miami Marlins, NBC News reported. However, his hand, which appeared in the shot, was strategically placed behind analyst and former Cubs outfielder Doug Glanville, to form an upside-down “OK” hand sign, which is affiliated with white nationalism.
Crane Kenney, the team’s president of business operations, said the fan was in violation of the Cubs’ Guest Code of Conduct and was no longer welcome at the historic ballpark.
“If he attempts to enter Wrigley Field [or] other ticketed areas he may be subject to prosecution for criminal trespass to property,” Kenney said in a statement.
Earlier on Wednesday, Kenney said the incident was under investigation “because no one should be subjected to this type of offensive behavior.”
“Any individual behaving in this manner will not only be removed from the ballpark, but will be permanently banned from Wrigley Field,” he added.
The club has declined to name the disgraced fan, but penned him a letter informing him of his banishment.
Glanville, who was in the dugout reporting at the time of the incident, said he wasn’t aware of what happened until after the segment. He later thanked NBC Sports and the Cubs organization for their “responsiveness” to the situation.
“They have displayed sensitivity as to how the implications of this would affect me as a person of color,” Glanville said. “I’m supporting their efforts in fully investigating the matter and I will comment further once the investigation has run its course.”
The fan’s offensive gesture, which looks a lot like the innocuous “OK” sign, has only recently become affiliated with the alt-right and white nationalist movements. According to the Anti-Defamation League, however, the hand gesture is a hoax campaign crafted by users of the website 4Chan to falsely promote the sign as symbol of hate.
The goal was to “flood Twitter [and] other social media websites … claiming that the ‘OK’ hand sign is a symbol of white supremacy … ,’” the civil rights organization explained. “The user even provided a helpful graphic showing how the letters WP could be traced within an ‘OK’ gesture.”
The hoaxers ultimately hoped the plan would make “liberals and the media … overreact by condemning a common image as white supremacist,” the ADL continued.
Though the gesture started as a hoax, some prominent white nationalists, including Richard Spencer, have adopted the sign as a true expression of white supremacy, and others are using it “ironically” or, without knowing the symbolism’s origin, as a genuine expression of alt-right leanings. Still, the ADL has warned against “jumping to conclusions” or making assumptions about the intent behind someone who’s used the hand sign.
“It doesn’t matter either way,” Cubs spokesman Julian Green said in a statement, calling the fan’s behavior “reprehensible.”
“This was bad judgment on the part of the individual,” Green added. “Whether sophomoric behavior or some other stunt, to use that in connection with a respected journalist, who happens to be African American, and doing his job to deliver enjoyment to our fans is ignorant. It has no place at Wrigley Field.”
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