NEWS
05/05/2020 5:39 PM AEST

California Shopper In Ku Klux Klan Hood Alarms Customers

Supermarket workers at a store in Santee confronted the hooded customer over his "inflammatory method of wearing a face covering," the company said.

Customers and local officials blasted a grocery shopper in a San Diego suburb who was photographed wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood — apparently to provocatively conform to the county’s coronavirus face mask requirements.

Several workers at the store in Santee confronted the supremacist shopper, who refused to remove the hood until shortly before he purchased his groceries and left, according to a spokesperson for the Vons supermarket company.

“Unfortunately, an alarming and isolated incident occurred at our Vons store in Santee, where a customer chose an inflammatory method of wearing a face covering,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Needless to say, it was shocking. This was a disturbing incident for our associates and customers, and we are reviewing with our team how to best handle such inappropriate situations in the future.”

The shopper — who appeared to be a long-haired, middle-aged white man in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt — was not identified. Several people on social media called on others to name the customer if they recognised him.

Santee Mayor John Minto condemned the “symbol of hatred” worn by the man — and thanked those who confronted the customer. 

“Many thanks to all who stepped forward to curtail this sad reminder of intolerance,” the mayor said in a joint statement with the city council. “Santee, its leaders and I will not tolerate such behaviour.”

A woman who posted one of several photos of the shopper on social media told the Times of San Diego: “I was in disbelief. He was behind me in line. A man in a wheelchair [went] past and saluted him and he laughed. I took the photo because I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. I’ve grown up in Santee and have never seen such racism right before my eyes.”

Santee has a dark history of racist attacks and skinhead activity that earned the city of some 55,000 people the nicknames “Klantee” and “Santucky,” noted The San Diego Union Tribune.

White supremacy and anti-Semitism have become intertwined with protests against COVID-19 safety measures.

The Auschwitz Museum deplored the use of a Nazi slogan by a protester in Chicago on Friday. She held aloft a sign reading: “Arbeit Macht Frei J.B.” The phrase means “work sets you free,” and was posted at some Nazi death camps where Jews and others were worked to death or killed during World War II. “J.B.” Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, is Jewish.

Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in an interview Sunday condemned racist symbols, including Confederate flags and swastikas, displayed by some in a protest against stay-at-home COVID-19 safety measures at the state’s Capitol building last week.

“The Confederate flags and nooses, the swastikas, the behavior that you’ve seen in all of the clips is not representative of who we are in Michigan,” Whitmer said.