Wisconsin high schoolers busted for performing Nazi salute in class photo will receive no punishment from school district

Wisconsin high schoolers busted for performing Nazi salute in class photo will receive no punishment from school district

Earlier this month, a prom photo went absolutely viral on Twitter and, sadly, it was far from cute or heartwarming. In a photo reportedly taken last spring, dozens of male high schoolers give what appears to be a Nazi salute while standing on the steps of the Sauk County Courthouse on their prom day. The photo was posted to Twitter, where it unsurprisingly went viral, and the Baraboo school district promised to investigate the situation.


Now, according to the State Journal, Baraboo Superintendent Lori Mueller said the district is not in a position to punish students, as they are protected by the First Amendment. In a letter sent to parents on Wednesday, she also says that officials cannot know the “intentions in the hearts” of the students in the photo. 

Of course, many feel that actions speak louder than words. And, well, the actions shown in that photo say a whole lot, regardless of the “intentions” in anyone’s heart. 

One student in the photo, who did not raise his hand in the traditional Nazi salute, gave a statement to Jules Suzdaltsev, the journalist who first picked up the story:

I spoke with the only student who is visibly not comfortable with the “salute”, he provided this statement. pic.twitter.com/HbNBc8xLOK

— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) November 12, 2018

Eventually, the photographer, later identified as Peter Gust, said he asked the boys to wave goodbye to their parents, which is an obvious contradiction of the student’s statement on the events. 

One student who also did not make the traditional Sieg Heil instead did an “OK” symbol commonly associated with the alt-right. He uses his index finger and thumb to create the “ OK” sign, which is clearly visible, as he is right in the front row. 

When the image went viral, the school district and the local police both promised investigations:

Mueller’s recent letter to parents clarifies that while they have completed most of their investigation into the image itself, some “key details” are still unclear. What’s “unclear” about dozens of high schoolers doing the Nazi salute is what now has everyone else scratching their heads.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close