'Despicable Me' Mascot Fired from Universal Studios After Flashing a White Power Symbol in a Photo with a Child
"We just wanted to take them to see the minions," Tiffiney Zinger said of her trip to the park with her children
Published Oct 02, 2019The "OK" hand signal has developed a new, unimaginably worse meaning in our current cultural climate, as white supremacists have co-opted it into a coded gesture to represent "white power." Now, a Universal Studios employee has been fired for flashing the gesture in a photo with a young, biracial child.
As USA Today reports, Tiffiney Zinger and her husband Richard travelled from their Colorado home to visit Universal Orlando Resort earlier this year. While attending the character breakfast at Universal's Loews Royal Pacific Resort on March 23, their daughter posed with Gru and some of the minions from Despicable Me.
In the photo, available above, the actor playing Gru is clearly seen making an upside down "OK" symbol on the young girl's shoulder. Then six years old, the daughter has autism. Tiffiney immediately recognized the symbol and had to tell her daughter she couldn't use the picture in a school project about her vacation.
"We just wanted to take them to see the minions," Tiffiney Zinger told USA Today. "Do something special for our family and this person ruined that special warm feeling."
While it may seem like an innocent "OK" gesture to the untrained eye, the Anti-Defamation League has recently registered the gesture as a hate symbol, with the extended fingers representing a "W" and the circle and palm forming a "P" to spell "white power."
This incident happened only one week after the massacre in New Zealand, where an alt-right terrorist murdered 51 people in two mosques. While appearing in court, he made the same "OK" hand gesture.
Speaking with USA Today, Universal Orlando spokesperson Tom Schroder said, "We never want our guests to experience what this family did.... This is not acceptable and we are sorry — and we are taking steps to make sure nothing like this happens again. We can't discuss specifics about this incident, but we can confirm that the actor no longer works here. We remain in contact with the family and will work with them privately to make this right."
Watch the USA Today report below.