NYPD officer appears to make white power sign at protest, prompting probe

The New York Police Department said it is aware of the video and that the matter is under internal review.

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By Janelle Griffith and Matteo Moschella

A video of a uniformed New York City police officer appearing to make a white power symbol at a George Floyd protest Saturday in New York City has prompted an internal review.

The video showing the officer making the apparent "OK" hand gesture — touching the thumb and index finger to make a circle, with the remaining three fingers held outstretched — was posted to social media over the weekend.

NBC News is not publishing or linking to the video to avoid providing a platform to apparent expressions of hate or white supremacy.

The "OK" gesture has been used by people around the world for centuries, typically to signal consent, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Recently, the hand signal has also been appropriated to represent the letters w and p to signify "white power," stemming from a hoax in 2017 by members of the website 4chan, an anonymous and unrestricted online message board, the ADL says.

At the Saturday demonstration at New York City's Union Square, the officer made what appeared to be the gesture into the camera sight of a rapper, China Mac, who was recording himself at the protest. Another man nearby recorded the incident and provided a copy of his footage to NBC News. He requested anonymity out of fear of retribution.

China Mac, a Brooklyn-born rapper whose real name is Raymond Yu, posted the viral clip on Instagram where it has been viewed more than 60,000 times.

"So there's a viral clip going around of white officers throwing up the 'White Power' sign," he captioned the Instagram post. "I was taking a picture for my YouTube live thumbnail, and the two officers photobombed it throwing up their signs. What do y’all think about that?"

Yu did not immediately return a request for comment on Thursday.

The man who recorded the incident said he had attended the demonstration to document it.

The video shows the officer making the gesture, then appearing to laugh with another uniformed officer beside him.

The man who recorded it told NBC News that he believed the officer made the gesture "to communicate white power and to say, 'We're going to win at the end.'"

The NYPD responded Wednesday to a request for comment, saying it is aware of the video and that the matter is under internal review.

Twitter users flagged the video to the police department, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York State Attorney General Letitia James.

James said on Twitter that witnesses to the incident should submit complaints and copy of the video to her office.

Delaney Kempner, a spokeswoman for James' office, told NBC News on Monday that they are aware of the video but could not comment on specifics of investigations.

James tweeted Monday in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's request that her office review the NYPD's response to all protests over the weekend. "I want New Yorkers to know that I take my role to investigate the events of this weekend very seriously. I promise you a swift investigation with all of the facts," she said.

NBC News also reached out to the mayor's office for comment on Thursday but did not immediately hear back.