Dozens of students at Barbaroo High School in Wisconsin who were photographed making a Nazi Salute will reportedly not be punished by school officials.
The photo, which shows about 60 boys before their spring prom, most of whom are making a Sig Heil, was released at the beginning of November. Although not all of the subjects are participating in the racist salute, the vast majority were doing so while grinning.
Following a strong response on social media, including from the Aushwitz Memorial, the Wisconsin school district and local police announced they would be investigating the photo as well as the students in it. However, according to a letter addressed to parents, released by Baraboo School District Administrator Lori Mueller, the investigation has been closed. Mueller explained that the school will not seek punishment, as it would hinder the student’s First Amendment rights.
“As previously stated, we cannot know the intentions in the hearts of those who were involved,” Mueller wrote in the letter. “Moreover, because of students’ First Amendment rights, the district is not in a position to punish the students for their actions.” Although Mueller explained that the action was not indicative of the school’s values, she mentioned that there’s no way of determining what the student’s intentions were.
Peter Gust, the photographer and a parent of one of the students, claimed that the boys were waving, however another student who chose not to participate challenged that narrative. The student wrote, “I knew what my morals were and it was not to salute something I firmly didn’t believe in.”
We can’t even act like we’re surprised.
It is so hard to find words…
This is why every single day we work hard to educate. We need to explain what is the danger of hateful ideology rising. Auschwitz with its gas chambers was at the very end of the long process of normalizing and accommodating hatred. https://t.co/13AzZaMGJR
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 12, 2018