Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson took the helm last week as the top cop in charge of security in Ferguson, Mo. Johnson did everything right during his first day in charge. By right, I totally mean he did his public relations duty. He met with citizens, he marched with citizens and he even posed in photos with members of his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi. Johnson and his fraternity brothers did their typical hand signs in the photos, but many people unfamiliar with black Greek life quickly assumed that the signs were gang-related.
That’s, of course, assuming that you don’t count the police force as a “gang,” but that’s another story in itself.
Today the Washington Post’s Soraya Nadia McDonald reiterated the meaning behind Johnson’s hand signs:
To reiterate: Capt. Johnson is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, a black fraternity that was formed in 1911 at Indiana University in Bloomington, and the hand sign you see in the pictures below is a Kappa greeting. The Kappas are part of the Divine Nine or the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the nine historically black fraternities and sororities that include Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Alpha Phi Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma, Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Iota Phi Theta, none of which are gangs.
As I saw the tweets of people questioning whether this man, standing in his full officer’s uniform, was actually in a gang, I then realized how dumb people really are. The fact that people believed an officer would a) belong in a gang and b) throw gang signs was absolutely hilarious. And sad.
The faux controversy apparently stemmed from a CNN iReport, which has since been deleted, that called Johnson’s hand sign a gang sign.
But that didn’t stop those on Twitter for calling out the iReport: