By Louis Casiano
Published October 02, 2019
A Universal Orlando actor who dressed as "Gru" from the “Despicable Me” animated movie franchise has been fired after allegedly making a hand gesture associated with white supremacists in a photo with a biracial girl.
The photo with the girl, now 7, who is autistic, shows her posing with the actor during a character breakfast at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, a Universal hotel, in March.
The photo shows the actor making an upside-down "OK" symbol with his hand on the girl's shoulder. The gesture is widely associated with white supremacy and far-right groups.
Universal spokesman Tom Schroder told Fox News the actor, who has not been publicly identified, no longer works for the company.
"We never want our guests to experience what this family did. This is not acceptable and we are sorry – and we are taking steps to make sure nothing like this happens again," he said in a statement. "We can’t discuss specifics about this incident, but we can confirm that the actor no longer works here. We remain in contact with the family and will work with them privately to make this right."
The girl's parents -- Tiffiney Zinger, who is black, and her husband, Richard, who is white -- noticed the symbol while scrolling through vacation photos in August. The family traveled from Colorado to Orlando for the breakfast.
"We just wanted to take them to see the Minions," Tiffiney Zinger told USA Today, referring to the popular, pill-shaped henchmen in the "Despicable Me" films. "Do something special for our family. And this person ruined that special warm feeling."
The couple dug deeper and found a video taken of the moment the photo was taken. The 29-second clip shows the actor placing his hand behind the girl's shoulder and curling his right thumb and index finger to make the "OK" symbol.
Brenton Tarrant, the Australian man charged with killing 51 people at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March, flashed the “OK” symbol during a courtroom appearance after his arrest.
“It’s more than the "OK" sign,” Richard Zinger said. “A lot of people don’t understand what that sign means.”
The Anti-Defamation League has added the gesture to its online database of hate symbols.
Fox News reporter Frank Miles and The Associated Press contributed to this report.