Chicago, IL – A Cubs fan who made a circular “okay” hand gesture during a live broadcast at Wrigley Field has been banned from the venue for life, after many people declared that the gesture is associated with white supremacy.
The incident occurred on Tuesday night, as former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago reporter Doug Glanville was standing beside a dugout, the Associated Press reported.
The hand gesture was made by a Cubs fan sitting in the background, and could be seen just to the right of Glanville’s head during the live broadcast.
Team officials said they believed the man flashed the had sign in a “racist way,” Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney said, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
"An individual seated behind Mr. Glanville used what appears to be an offensive hand gesture that is associated with racism," Kenney told CNN in a statement. "Such ignorant and repulsive behavior is not tolerated at Wrigley Field."
“No one should be subjected to this type of offensive behavior,” he added.
NBC Sports Chicago Senior Vice President Kevin Cross also denounced the fan’s behavior, and said it was “disappointed” that the incident took place on their station and “at the expense” of Glanville, NBC News reported.
"We find the behavior of this fan reprehensible and clearly does not represent the great Cubs fans of our city and those around the country," Cross added.
The myth that the okay sign actually means "white power" was started by internet trolls on 4chan, an anonymous message board, in February of 2017, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
“We must flood twitter and other social media websites with spam, claiming that the OK hand sign is a symbol of white supremacy,” the anonymous poster wrote, according to ADL, a civil rights organization. “Leftists have dug so deep down into their lunacy. We must force [them] to dig more, until the rest of society ain’t going anywhere near that s--t.”
Users encouraged people to perpetuate the hoax using hashtags such as #PowerHandPrivilege and #NotOkay, created fake social media and email accounts, and bombarded journalists and civil rights organizations with the misinformation.
It appears that the person was playing a viral trend known as the "circle game" where the goal is to make somebody look at your hand making the OK sign below waist level.
But team officials disagreed.
"If it is believed to be the Circle game, then this person made a bad judgment call by using a symbol associated with racism above an African American reporter's head while he's doing his job on live TV," Cubs spokesperson Julian Green told WGN. "This is something we are not going to drop."
Wrigley Field security officers responded to the seat where the fan had been sitting, but he was already gone, Green told the Associated Press.
The fan was not the season ticket holder, and had purchased the ticket through StubHub, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
Team officials said they tried to reach him by phone several times on Wednesday, but he never answered.
They ultimately sent him a letter letting him know that the team had banned him from the venue indefinitely, effective immediately.
If he tries to return to the field in the future, he could be arrested for criminal trespass, Kenney said.
Cubs President Theo Epstein was appalled by the incident, and called it “truly disgusting.”
“It gave me shivers to watch that,” Epstein said. “That [it] would take place at Wrigley Field.”
He noted that the fan has been made aware that he will “never be welcome back” to the venue, WGN reported.
"We've made clear how egregious and unacceptable that behavior is, and there's no place for it in our society, in baseball and certainly no place in Wrigley Field," Epstein reiterated.
Glanville said he wasn’t aware of what had occurred until after he finished the segment, and said he appreciated how team officials handled the situation, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
“They have displayed sensitivity as to how the implications of this would affect me as a person of color," Glanville told NBC News in a statement.