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La Crosse County investigating photo of deputy making what appears to be white supremacy gesture

Interim county administrator, county sheriff say they launched an internal investigation into the incident, called for external review

Police cruiser siren
Matty Ring (CC-BY)

La Crosse County leaders say they are investigating a photo shared on social media that appears to show a sheriff’s deputy using a hand sign used by white supremacy groups.

The La Crosse Tribune reported a photo shared on Sheriff Jeff Wolf’s official Facebook page earlier this month shows Sgt. Brandon Penzkover making what looks like the OK hand symbol.

The gesture was classified as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League in 2019 after white supremacists started widely using the symbol on social media and online message boards. The Tribune reported that the photo was removed from Wolf’s page last week.

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On Monday, Interim County Administrator Jane Klekamp and Sheriff Jeff Wolf issued a joint statement saying they are aware of the image and that they “condemn the use of what appears to be a sign associated with racist hate groups.” Klekamp and Wolf said in the statement that they are conducting an internal investigation and have also requested an “outside review” of the incident.

“La Crosse County has a duty to serve all members of our community in a fair and equitable way. We are working toward that goal as evidenced by the Racism as a Public Health Crisis resolution approved by the county board,” the statement said.

Both Klekamp and Wolf declined to comment further on Tuesday or clarify who was conducting the internal investigation.

“It is imperative that those investigating can do so without pressure from others including the media,” Wolf said in an email.

Last week, Wolf told WKBT in an email that the gesture “had no intent as perceived.”

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