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Black Army football coach defends Army-Navy students against ‘white power’ accusations

United States Military Academy cadets watch the 2019 Army Navy Game in Philadelphia, Pa., Dec. 14, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Dana Clarke)
December 17, 2019

Lawrence Scott, the director of player development for the Army football team, spoke out on Saturday night over an alleged racist incident involving students at the 120th Army-Navy football game.

In a Twitter thread, Scott vouched for the cultural ‘vacuum’ students live in and suggested West Point and Navy academy students accused of making racist gestures are likely more familiar with the gesture’s use as part of a prank game.

Scott, who is black, described understanding the difference between interacting with people who looked down on him with racial animus and those students he believes were simply playing a game.

“To immediately assign meaning to a gesture made by a young Cadet/Midshipmen without consideration of their disposition is irresponsible,” Scott warned. “It’s quite frankly unfair to immediately assume such a disgusting thing about an individual.”

Scott, whose job includes providing personal support for the West Point players, went as far as to describe his own interactions with students playing the “circle game” wherein if one person can get another person to see the circle, formed by the first person’s thumb and pointer finger, the first person gets to punch the second person in the arm.

“It’s a game these students play, white and black alike. I see it almost every day. They’ve even gotten me with it before,” he said.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has raised claims the gesture has taken on a new meaning as a way to signal “White Power.” The ADL did warn of the gesture’s more innocuous meanings and urged caution in ascribing motives. The ADL also noted racist connotation started as a hoax on on the 4chan internet forum, to “falsely promote the gesture as a hate symbol.”

To those only familiar with the gesture only as a form of racist signal and not as part of a game, Scott asked, “If you didn’t know about the game… why is it so hard to believe they didn’t know about a white supremacy symbol?”

Scott’s Twitter defense of the accused students has garnered thousands of likes and hundreds of retweets.

His comments came before Army and Navy announcements of investigations into the students involved.