Ferguson Highway Patrol Captain Flashes Frat Greeting, Gets Called a Gang Member

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 20 2014 1:57 PM

Ferguson Highway Patrol Captain Flashes Frat Greeting, Gets Called a Gang Member

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Missouri Highway Patrol Captain—and Kappa—Ron Johnson

Photo by Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images

A CNN iReport mistakenly iDentified Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson as flashing a gang sign. In reality, Johnson is a brother of Kappa Alpha Psi, which is not a gang, but rather a historically black fraternity.

From the Washington Post:

Capt. Johnson is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, a black fraternity that was formed in 1911 at Indiana University in Bloomington, and the hand sign you see in the pictures below is a Kappa greeting. The Kappas are part of the Divine Nine or the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the nine historically black fraternities and sororities that include Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Alpha Phi Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma, Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Iota Phi Theta, none of which are gangs.
This particular piece of misinformation, asserting Johnson was aligning himself with the Bloods, appears to have originated in a post on CNN’s iReport site — since removed — and then circulated on Twitter by user @DixielandDiva, an account that no longer exists.
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Twitter users responded to @DixelandDiva's tweet, which featured the photo and a declaration that "BLACK Capt. Ron Johnson and his gang signs need to resign," in equal parts incredulity and disgust.

In place of the removed iReport is a producer note, which reads, "This iReport, which was not verified by CNN, has been pulled as it is in violation of our site's community guidelines." 

CNN iReport is a "compilation of news items submitted by citizen journalism." Those considering contribution to the compilation in the future should note the distinction between gang signs and frat greetings before theyReport.

Update August 21, 2014, 10:25 a.m.: CNN responded to our request for comment, clarifying, "iReport is a social network for news. A small number of user submissions are approved for use on air and online. The iReport in question had not been vetted, was labeled as 'NOT VERIFIED BY CNN,' and was removed shortly after being flagged by the community."

Emily Tamkin is an editorial intern at Slate and a M.Phil. candidate in Russian and East European studies at Oxford. Follow her on Twitter.  

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