Story at a glance:

  • Two families that attended Universal Studios in Orlando are saying that their young daughters humiliated and mentally scarred by the character Gru, who flashed a white power hand sign.
  • One family is seeking $30,000 in damages.
  • Universal said it fired the actor responsible for the recurring incident.

“Despicable Me” character Gru is being accused of hate speech via a hand gesture.

Two families that attended Universal Studios in Orlando are saying that their two daughters, who were 5 and 6 years old, were humiliated and mentally scarred by the "Despicable Me" character Gru, who flashed a white power hand sign, The New York Post reported.


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One family’s Black 6-year-old girl met Gru at a breakfast hosted at Universal’s Loews Royal Pacific Resort in March 2019. 

The family took a picture with Gru who posed with an upside-down “OK” hand sign placed on her shoulder, a gesture that organizations, including Anti-Defamation League, associate with white supremacy.

The family filed suit June 23 in Orange County court.

“He put his hand on her as if he was just doing it regularly, and as I was looking at the camera, he started to put the universal white supremacist hate sign on her shoulder,” mother Tiffiney Zinger told USA Today.

“We just wanted to take them to see the Minions, do something special for our family, and this person ruined that special warm feeling,” she said.

The child was later humiliated at school when she tried to share a photo of the encounter. 

The same Gru character made the same gesture on a 5-year-old biracial girl in February 2019 at the theme park.

The second family is seeking $30,000 in damages.

Universal Orlando said it fired the actor responsible for the recurring incident.

“We never want our guests to experience what this family did,” a spokesperson told USA Today. “This is not acceptable and we are sorry — and we are taking steps to make sure nothing like this happens again.

“We can’t discuss specifics about this incident, but we can confirm that the actor no longer works here.”


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Published on Jul 13, 2021