Florida tourist chief in Facebook photo scandal
Photo of Florida tourist chief making Nazi salute sparks investigation
Florida tourism official is being investigated after posting a picture of himself making a Nazi salute in front of a symbol resembling a swastika.
Roland Loog appears smiling as he raises his hand in the salute associated with Adolf Hitler while standing in front of the symbol during a visit to Alabama.
Loog posted the photo on his Facebook page and wrote:'Something strange came over me and I wave in this horrid way.'
Loog, who is head of tourism for Gainesville and Alachua County, later removed the offending photograph that was taken outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The courthouse features eight of the symbols, believed to be derived from native american culture rather than Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party.
Loog, who has been head of the Gainesville Tourism Department since 1999, was visiting the town in Alabama for a conference.
He now faces a disciplinary hearing which could lead to his suspension.
Loog was wearing a 'visit Gainesville' polo shirt when he posed for the photo on September 18.
He denied he had any affiliation to Nazis or right wing movements.
He said he was stunned to see the Nazi like symbol and his one arm salute gesture was meant to mock the emblem.
'I was in shock and responded in a mocking way, and I shouldn’t have done that.
'I just had to mock it and put it down,' he said.
Loog wrote in his Facebook post that he thought people should consider removing the pattern from the building.
'I put a negative post on my personal Facebook (page), and I should know better,' he added.
Loog also wrote on his Facebook site that the symbol, which can also be found in native Indian culture, wasn't offensive but admitted its association to Nazi Germany could offend people.
He posted that he believes people have three reactions to a swastika: to embrace it, which he wrote is a sad response; to loathe it; or to poke fun at it.
He said he chose the third option and 'did not see door #4 — ignore the fool thing.'
County Commissioner Susan Baird said that residents had emailed and called her to complain about Loog’s photo, which she said she heard had been posted as a joke.
'Well that’s not funny to a lot of people,' she said.
Acting County Manager Richard Drummond gave Loog notice that the county was considering disciplinary action and will meet with Loog on Friday in a closed hearing.