Milwaukee Students' Answer To 'Nazi Salute' Prom Photo Will Melt Your Heart

A symbol of hated is countered with symbols of peace and love.

After students in Baraboo, Wisconsin, drew attention to the Badger State by posing for a photo in which nearly all the young men – most of them white – were raising their arms in what appeared to be a Nazi salute, another group of students about 100 miles away decided they would not let that image speak for them.

More than 60 students at Rufus King High School in Milwaukee got together after school earlier this month to create their own photo: a diverse group of young people showing signs of love and peace, OnMilwaukee reported.

The Baraboo photo, which was taken in May before the high school’s junior prom, went viral after being posted on Twitter this month. Last week, Baraboo School Superintendent Lori Mueller announced that the students would not be punished because of their First Amendment rights.

The Rufus King students used their First Amendment rights to respond with their own powerful image.

“We wanted to create something that was positive and full of love and represents Wisconsin in a positive light,” Alice McGuinness, a 17-year-old senior at Rufus King, told OnMilwaukee. 

The students and some faculty members held up peace signs, hearts and the American Sign Language sign for “I love you” in their photo, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The group came up with the hashtag #WIUnitedinLove to promote the message.

English teacher Kelly O’Keefe-Boettcher came up with the idea for a photo and said she was gratified by the number of people who chose to participate.

“Our goal at Rufus King is to be an upstander, not a bystander,” she told the Journal Sentinel.