High school prom photo shows large group giving Nazi salute

A photo from a Wisconsin high school’s junior prom shows dozens of white male students flashing the Nazi salute, sparking outrage across Twitter.

The photo was originally shared by a Baraboo High School “parody account” called GoBaraboo, which openly bragged about how “we even got the black kid to throw it up.” Twitter user Carly Sidey and Vice’s Jules Suzdaltsev proceeded to condemn the photo on Sunday, openly criticizing the students’ behavior.

“I just want @barabooSD to be aware of the disturbing actions that are represented in this photograph,” Sidey tweeted. “This is BEYOND sickening.”

After Suzdaltsev posted the photo, he says anonymous students reached out to him to share that the school struggles with racist bullying both online and in person, and that the administration refuses to protect students who report harassment. One anonymous student reportedly told Suzdaltsev that the n-word is “pretty common” among white students, “whether jokingly or not.”

Another student also reportedly shouted “white power!” after President Trump was elected, only for the school to say “that nothing could be done because it was his First Amendment right” and that the student should “look up videos of Black Lives Matter protesters being hostile towards police.”

“I’ve received messages from about 10 students/former students/locals, mostly female, talking about the toxic attitudes at the schools—specifically racism towards non-white students,” Suzdaltsev told the Daily Dot. “All who reached out where thankful it was being reported on, and sadly not shocked that it happened.”

As the photo went viral Sunday night, Twitter users were sickened and appalled, and demanded a response from the Baraboo school district.

https://twitter.com/Songbird_7_/status/1061997518542770178

Some point out that white people are continuing to express their real racist sentiments, which were hidden from the public eye until President Donald Trump’s election.

https://twitter.com/Bex_Lyn/status/1061976137637785601

Others pointed out how horrendous it was that several people of color were forced to experience their white peers’ racist behavior. Suzdatlsev said one student reached out to him and explained that he was “uncomfortable with what was happening” and that he refused to salute as a result.

“The photographer took the photos telling us to make the sign, I knew what my morals were and it was not to salute something I firmly didn’t believe in,” the student told Suzdaltsev.

Meanwhile, the Auschwitz Memorial tweeted, “It is so hard to find words” over the photo. The memorial stressed that “we need to explain what is the danger of hateful ideology rising,” and that the Baraboo school district should “know more about what can be the extreme result of normalization of hatred.”

On Monday morning, Baraboo school district administrator Dr. Lori M. Mueller responded on Twitter, saying the photo is “not reflective of the educational values and beliefs” of the school district.

“The District will pursue any and all available and appropriate actions, including legal, to address,” she tweeted.

When reached for comment, Dr. Mueller told the Daily Dot that the school district is “launching an investigation” and is “unable to provide additional details at this time.” She also provided an official statement sent to parents this morning regarding the photo, which states the district “will pursue any and all available and appropriate actions, including legal” if “the gesture is what it appears to be.”

“With that, we want to be very clear: The Baraboo School District is a hate-free environment where all people, regardless of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin or ancestry, are respected and celebrated,” Dr. Mueller wrote in the official statement.

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As for the viral response, Suzdaltsev says he’s “not altogether surprised, [because the photo] completely shocked me.”

“I could never imagine my high school class doing something like that,” he told the Daily Dot. “I figured I wasn’t alone in being shocked by such a photo.”

Clearly, he was not.

Ana Valens

Ana Valens

Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.