(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY ODF SNOPES FACT CHECKER)
Several male students at Baraboo High School were photographed performing the Nazi “Sieg Heil” salute.
Both police and school officials in Wisconsin launched an investigation into a photograph of local high school students flashing a Nazi salute after a journalist posted the picture online.
On 11 November 2018 Reporter Jules Suzdaltsev posted the picture of a group of boys, reportedly comprising Baraboo High School’s entire male graduating class of 2019, with several of them visibly flashing the extended-arm “Sieg Heil” gesture. His tweet was shared more than 14,000 times within 24 hours:
“I was contacted by a former student who shared with me a post she made about the photo, which was posted by a student run page with the caption, ‘We even got the black kid to throw it up #BarabooProud,’” Suzdaltsev told us via email a day after posting the photograph. “I was not familiar with the school, but the photo was shocking and I assumed it would be shocking to others as well.”
Other students accused the school of ignoring requests for help, and one said to Suzdaltsev that when they informed an official that one of the boys in the photograph yelled “white power” in the hallway, they were told to “look up videos of Black Lives Matter protesters being violent to police and that [they] should grow a tougher skin.”
Jordan Blue, now a senior at Baraboo High School, said that in May of this year, he and his male classmates had been posing for pictures in front of a local courthouse before their junior prom when the photographer told them to “raise your hand.”
Peter Gust, the photographer who took the picture, has defended himself, saying he told the students to wave goodbye to their parents, not to make the Nazi gesture.
“I didn’t tell them to salute anything,” Gust said in a statement to CNN. “There was nothing that diminished the quality of anyone’s life. There was nothing that diminished anyone’s stature in society, nothing that was intended to point a finger at anyone in their class that may have some kind of difference. There was none of that.”