An employee that made a controversial gesture depicting a symbol of hate has been fired from Universal Orlando. The firing comes after a Colorado family discovered a character making the hate symbol on the shoulder of their biracial 6-year-old child in photos and video from their trip to the theme park which took place back in March. The photos and video were discovered and shared with Universal in August.
As reported by USA Today, Tiffiney Zinger discovered the hate symbol when going through photos from the family vacation for her daughter to use in a second grade class project. When looking over the photos, she discovered that the actor dressed as Despicable Me's Gru had formed an upside-down "OK" symbol with his fingers. The symbol is recognized by the Anti-Defamation League as well as others as hate symbol signifying "white power." Zinger told the outlet that they didn't initially notice the symbol until looking over the photos. When looking a bit further, they also discovered that they had a short video of the actor making the gesture.
In the video, the Gru actor gestures for the little girl to stand beside him and, while he initially places his hand behind her shoulder, he then moves his hand onto it and curls his fingers into the symbol. For the Zingers, the video shows the action to be deliberate, deeply troubling given the symbol's meaning.
"It's more than the 'OK' sign," Richard Zinger said. "A lot of people don't understand what that sign means."
After discovering the symbol, the family reached out to Universal and were told it was being investigated. After a month of not hearing anything, they reached out again and according to the Zingers, they were told the investigation status was proprietary information and offered free tickets and a gift card. Since then, Universal Orlando Resort spokesman Tom Schroder revealed that the actor no longer works at the park in a statement.
"We never want our guests to experience what this family did," the statement said. "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."
For Tiffiney Zinger, making it right will mean it never happens again.
"I want to cause change," she said. "I hope this doesn't happen to another family again, and I pray that this doesn't happen to another kid."