The photographer who took a prom picture in which a group of Wisconsin juniors appear to be making Nazi salutes has provided an explanation.
Pete Gust, who is a parent of one of the boys and who runs the photography website Wheel Memories, told WKOW that he asked the Baraboo High School juniors to wave goodbye to their parents when he took an ill-timed shot as they were raising their arms.
He continued to say that the picture was not intended to "simulate anything that was offensive to anyone," and in a post on his website said: "To anyone I hurt I sincerely apologize."
The picture went viral on social media Monday, as it appears to show many boys from the Class of 2019 displaying a "Sieg Heil" salute.
One of the boys in front row meanwhile appears to be making a downwards "ok" sign, which has been recently adopted as an online troll of liberals by white nationalists, though it's not clear if the boy's use of the sign was intentional.
The picture was originally posted to the private Twitter account @GoBaraboo, saying "We even got the black kid to throw it up #Barabooproud."
Gust says the boys are innocent, saying "for society to now turn it around and blame these kids is absolutely wrong.
But one student who did not make the sign told WKOW that the boys had no reason to wave goodbye, and that at least some of the students made the hand gesture intentionally.
The prom photos have been removed from the Wheel Memories website, and replaced with the following message:
Due to malevolent behavior on the part of some in society; this page has been modified. It is too bad that there are those in society who can and do take the time to be jerks; knowingly and willingly to be jerks! The internet can be a wonderful tool but for some there is an overwhelming urge to destroy. The destruction may not be physical but instead, it can be bullying that is intellectual or emotional. To anyone that was hurt I sincerely apologize.
To those who have harmed them, we as society often ignore them I have chosen not to do that. YOU ARE JERKS! Grow up!
The Baraboo School District has launched an investigation into the picture, and has said it will take action, potentially legal, against any student it finds at fault.
After the picture was shared on social media on Monday, there were several students of Baraboo High School who came forward to say they had been the victims of racist bullying from other classmates.