Baraboo police investigate threats against residents related to controversial prom photo

Police are investigating threats to citizens related to a photo in Baraboo from last spring that shows about most boys with their right arms raised in what appears to be a Nazi salute, Baraboo police officials said.

In a news release Thursday morning, the Baraboo Police Department said it became aware Monday of the photograph, which included about 60 boys, that was posted on social media. Since then, threats to Baraboo School District students, staff, city entities and private businesses have been rampant. Threats have come through email, voice messages and telephone contact to all members of the community, and the department is investigating the potential crimes to ensure the safety of the community.

“The investigation into the events of the photo include a determination if there are any violations of criminal or civil law that are under our purview for enforcement,” according to the release.

#BREAKING: @BarabooPD Chief Mark Schauf says threats have called in, emailed, etc. to PD, @barabooSD, other Baraboo entities over recent photo, says, “It is the job of the police to investigate these potential crimes and ensure the safety of our community.”

— Dannika Lewis (@DannikaLewis) November 15, 2018

Baraboo police said officers are investigating whether the photo was posted with an intent that could be considered criminal under Wisconsin statutes.

Police are also assisting the School District of Baraboo, but the district’s internal investigation “is not within the scope of what we would do as the police” and the school’s investigation is independent of the police, according to the release.

In a letter to parents Wednesday, Baraboo Superintendent Lori Mueller said, “We understand the moral responsibility we have to be relentless in our work to create a culture in which racism is not tolerated. We are so very sorry that the actions of some of our students so understandably and deeply hurt people around the world.”

The parent who took the photo last May said he was simply asking the teens to wave goodbye to their parents before they headed to prom. One of the boys in the photo, Brock Turkington, told News 3 he understood why people would believe the photo was offensive and appeared anti-Semitic, but said “That was never the intent at that time. In this picture are many of my friends (not everyone in the picture), that I know are not racist and do not hold Nazi views.”

A community forum is planned Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Civic Center in Baraboo to discuss the incident and come up with ideas to show that the photo doesn’t reflect the city.

On Monday, in response to the photo, a group met at the Sauk County Courthouse in Baraboo, where the prom photo was taken earlier this year, and posed with symbols of love for a photo.

Baraboo police investigate threats against residents related to controversial prom photo

Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.