The photographer who took the picture of Wisconsin high school students appearing to give the Nazi salute apologized and said he asked them to “wave goodbye,” according to a local media report.
Peter Gust, a local motorcycle photographer who took the photo, told Wisconsin’s Madison365.com that the photo was “taken out of context” and as “innocent as boys and girls going to prom.” He said he “simply” told the boys to “wave goodbye, heading off to prom.”
The photo was posted to a prom photo album on Baraboo High School’s website, Wisconsin’s Madison365.com reported. One student reportedly said the “wave” order was not given. He said he “felt upset, unsafe, disappointed and scared. I felt unsafe because I go to school with them, I don’t believe in what they represented and the symbol they shared … they knew it was wrong, but they still did it.”
Gust released a statement on his website that said, “to anyone that was hurt I sincerely apologize” and called out “malevolent behavior” directed at the photo album.
“It is too bad that there are those in society who can and do take the time to be jerks; knowingly and willingly to be jerks! The internet can be a wonderful tool but for some there is an overwhelming urge to destroy,” Gust’s statement read.
The Baraboo School District said it is considering legal action against some of its own students.
“The photo of students posted to #BarabooProud is not reflective of the educational values and beliefs of the School District of Baraboo,” Superintendent Lori Mueller said in a statement. “The District will pursue any and all available and appropriate actions, including legal, to address.”
The district said in a letter sent home to parents Monday that the image was “not taken on school property or at a school-sponsored event.”
The Baraboo Police Department said on Facebook Monday that it was are assisting the Baraboo School District with their investigation into the matter.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum also blasted the district and students over the image, saying in a tweet that “If @barabooSD wishes to know more about what can be the extreme result of normalization of hatred…please see some online lessons dedicated to the history of Auschwitz.”
Fox News’ Greg Norman contributed to this report.