Two families are suing Universal Studios for over $30,000 because a “Despicable Me” actor made the “OK” hand gesture in photos with their five and six-year-old biracial daughters. It’s a “civil rights lawsuit,” because the families viewed the “OK” symbol as a representation of “white-power” and “racism.”
Two families are suing Universal Orlando after separate incidents during which an actor playing the “Despicable Me” movie character Gru made a racist hand gesture while posing for photos and video with biracial children. https://t.co/Km0MCyeAKp
— News 6 WKMG (@news6wkmg) July 9, 2021
During separate photo occasions, an actor dressed up as Gru from “Despicable Me” flashed the “OK” symbol. The Anti-Defamation League says “[this] symbol in most contexts is entirely innocuous and harmless,” but can sometimes become “a sincere expression of white supremacy.” The ADL emphasizes that, given the common nature of the symbol, “particular care must be taken not to jump to conclusions about the intent behind someone who has used [it].”
The young girls’ families nonetheless seem to have jumped to quick conclusions. The mother of the six-year-old girl, Tiffany Zinger, said, “[“Gru”] put his hand on her as if he was just doing it regularly, and as I was looking at the camera, he started to put the universal white supremacist hate sign on her shoulder.”
This “crime” supposedly ruined the family outing. “We just wanted to take them to see the Minions, do something special for our family, and this person ruined that special warm feeling,” Zinger said.
Zinger’s daughter tried to use the photo in a school project, but was supposedly humiliated when she found out that she wasn’t allowed to use the image because of Gru’s “racism.” It remains unclear why the girl wanted to use the photo for a school project if she and her family had been traumatized by it.
The lawsuit claims a five-year-old girl was in a similar photo-op with “Gru.” While both photos were taken in 2019, the lawsuit was filed on June 23 of this year, and goes so far as to cite “several high-profile hate crimes during which the suspects [allegedly] displaced the hand gesture, including the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.”
A Universal representative confirmed to WKMG that the actor was fired in October 2019. Universal Orlando has declined to release his name.
WKMG latched onto the families’ narrative, running the headline on Friday that “Families sue Universal Orlando after actor made white-power ‘OK’ gesture posing with girls.” “Lawsuit: Actor made white supremacy hand gesture on biracial children,” reads the subtitle.
WKMG reported, “both families are claiming the girls suffered mental anguish, loss of dignity, humiliation, embarrassment and other emotional distress.”