Community distressed, divided after photo of Baraboo boys' alleged Nazi salute goes viral

Published: Nov. 12, 2018 at 8:30 AM CST
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It's a photo that has been seen across the world. The Baraboo School District is investigating the reasons why a group of more than 50 high school boys giving what appears to be a Nazi salute.

Baraboo Superintendent Lori Mueller says she became aware of the photo Monday after it was posted on social media. Mueller says the photo was taken last spring during prom and wasn't on school grounds.

Mueller says the photo doesn't reflect the district's values and that administrators will pursue appropriate action. Baraboo police are also investigating. In a letter sent to parents, the district said they "are extremely troubled by the image."

The Baraboo School Board met Monday afternoon and discussed the photo. At the meeting members expressed that there is work to be done to make sure the district is safe for everyone.

"The school district and local authorities continue to investigate, speaking with the students and families involved to determine how and why this photo was taken," according to the letter, which was also posted on Facebook.

Jordan Blue, one of the boys in the picture not raising his hand, spoke to NBC Nightly News. He says students need to change their behavior.

"I'm very upset," Blue said. "It doesn't represent who I am as a person. And for that symbol to be posed in a photo it's very disrespectful."

Jen Terkington, wife of a Baraboo High School Football coach, described to NBC15 how the picture-taking incident unfolded.

"A man - a parent - came forward and started shouting instructions for the boys do this, do that and at one point he told the boys make the 'high sign.' The boys weren’t quite sure what to do. Some were waving high, some were raising their hand high, some were looking around not sure what to do. And that was it," Terkington said.

outside the Sauk County Courthouse on Monday afternoon, where they called for love and appreciation.

Wisconsin's Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers also reacted to the photo, saying it has "no place in Wisconsin."

"As elected officials, we have a responsibility to lead by example for a generation growing up in a climate where they see this behavior condoned," Evers said.

Evers said he will be in contact with Baraboo school officials and "intolerance and bigotry must never be tolerated, in our schools or anywhere else."

The picture traveled across the internet, reaching people at the Auschwitz Memorial. Their organization tweeted that the photo is why the organization works hard "to explain what is the danger of hateful ideology rising."