BARABOO (WKOW) — Chanting a message of “love, not hate” dozens of community members gathered at the Sauk County Courthouse in Baraboo Monday to respond to the photo that has caused outrage across the country.
The photo, posted to Twitter over the weekend, shows dozens of boys raising their right arm in what appears to be the Nazi salute.
Monday afternoon, community members brought posters sharing positive messages and posed for a photo near the steps where the group of boys took the photo last spring.
Stephanie Shanks, a professional photographer, along with Sherri Schaf organized the gathering.
“We were walking here together and it’s like well, maybe we’ll have 10 people, who knows, and it’s just really great to see the community,” Shanks said.
A few dozen people ranging from high school students, to parents to other community members held up signs or made hearts with their hands as a symbol for love.
High school freshman, Emmalee Feick said she came out because she wants to send a message that love and acceptance is much more representative of her community.
“Especially for students that are taking it as a joke, because it’s not and a lot of these students at my school are so I’m hoping maybe it will just get better and people will realize that our school isn’t like that,” she said.
Anita Neilsen said she knows some of the kids in the photograph and as a parent she said she would be horrified to see her child involved in anything like that.
“I don’t know what made them think that this was good thing to do,” she said. “You know teenagers can do really stupid things in the spur of the moment without thinking about it and certainly this is a good example of how photos are forever.”
The now viral prom photo was taken on the steps of the courthouse before last spring’s prom and was posted to @GoBaraboo, a protected Twitter account that bills itself as a Baraboo parody page.
In an email sent to families Monday morning, Superintendent Dr. Lori Mueller said the district is investigating.