WATERVILLE — A Waterville firefighter pictured in a group photo on the department’s Facebook page unintentionally made a hand gesture associated with the “white power” movement because of a recent injury, the fire chief said in a statement Friday.

The statement by Waterville Fire Chief Shawn Esler came following a report by the Bangor Daily News about the hand gesture in the photo. Esler told the newspaper that the photo, used as a cover image since Tuesday on the department’s Facebook page, was removed in response to the Bangor Daily News question and a review was underway.

The hand gesture in question — a circle with the thumb and forefinger — was made unknowingly by the firefighter, who was not identified, Esler said in his Friday statement.

Esler did not respond to calls, an email and a text message seeking confirmation on the firefighter’s suspected identity.

“The gesture was a direct result of an injury to his hand he had received earlier in the day,” Esler said in the statement. “The firefighter sustained a superficial injury to his thumb while conducting intensive hands-on training with self-contained breathing apparatus.”

Esler said the injury was not immediately reported, as required by department policy, so supervisors had been unaware at the time. Esler said the department’s review included interviews with firefighters in the photo “and we confirmed no horseplay regarding the ‘OK’ symbol or any racially charged motivation existed.”

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