A man wore a KKK hood to a California grocery store after a mask mandate was put in place

A person picking up cabbage while wearing protective gloves at a supermarket (file photo). Kathrin Ziegler/Getty Images
  • A white, middle-aged man was seen wearing a Klu Klux Klan hood at a Vons supermarket in Santee, California, over the weekend after the county issued a mandate requiring residents to wear protective face coverings to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
  • A Vons spokesperson told NBC San Diego that employees repeatedly asked the man to take off the hood, but he only took it off when he reached the grocery store’s check-out line.
  • Images of the man prompted outrage from Santee’s mayor, San Diego County’s supervisor, and the local Anti-Defamation League.
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A man was seen wearing a Klu Klux Klan hood at a grocery store in California during a county-wide mask mandate issued to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Photos posted on Facebook showed the man wearing a KKK mask while pushing his cart through the produce area of a Vons supermarket in Santee, California. At least one photo showed the man without the hood, in which he appeared white and middle-aged.

A Vons spokesperson told NBC San Diego that the man refused multiple requests to take off the hood from store employees, and only removed it once he was in line to check out.

“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,” said Melissa Hill, spokesperson for Vons, Albertsons, and Pavilions in Southern California told NBC San Diego. “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 incident happened after San Diego County issued a mandate that requires all residents to wear protective face coverings in public to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacobs and Santee Mayor John Minto criticised the man’s decision to wear the hood as his protective face covering.

“Many thanks to all who stepped forward to curtail this sad reminder of intolerance,” the mayor said in a statement. “Santee, its leaders, and I will not tolerate such behaviour. Santee and its citizens are great, and this particular individual’s actions are not representative of us as a people and a wonderful city.”

Jacobs, who represents Santee and other cities on San Diego County’s east side, called the photos “abhorrent” in a statement to the San Diego Tribune.

“This blatant racism has no place in Santee or any part of San Diego County. It is not who we are. It is not what we stand for and can’t be tolerated,” she said.

Anti-Defamation League San Diego Regional Director Tammy Gillies told NBC News that it was “shocking yet not surprising” to see people “embolden to express hate.”

“History teaches us that during times of crisis people are looking for a scapegoat,” she said. “During these times of COVID-19 we have seen the AAP I community be targeted, as well as other minority communities, including an uptick in anti-Semitism. We are here for the community 24/7 and hope the San Diego community will come together and reaffirm that San Diego is no place for hate.”