Sheriff under scrutiny after flashing 'white nationalist' symbol

A photo posted to Instagram by the wife of Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan is getting some attention because it features Lujan flashing an upside-down "OK" sign with his hand -- a sign that some believe to be associated with white nationalism.


The photo shows Lujan making the sign with his right hand while standing with his wife, Julie Casados, and their two sons. The picture was later deleted from her Instagram account.

While there's debate over the meaning of the "OK" sign, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Lujan was once the subject of  a past accusation of racist behavior that led to a lawsuit and a settlement. The lawsuit claims that Lujan made repeated comments about Former Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Marvin Armijo's dark skin color. In one incident cited in the suit, Armijo had requested time off to go on a hunting trip. After Lujan became sheriff, Armijo asked Lujan if he could still take the time off, and Lujan responded by telling him African Americans do not know how to hunt.

Other incidents documented in the suit claim that Lujan made racially derogatory remarks to Armijo more than once.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the hand gesture Lujan flashed is usually innocuous in nature, but after a 2017 hoax on 4chan, more and more people associate it with white supremacist ideology.