If we have learned anything since the beginning of the coronavirus health crisis, it’s that a global pandemic isn’t enough for white supremacists to take a break. In Santee, Calif., one grocery store shopper wore a Ku Klux Klan hood as a face covering to demonstrate safe social distancing practices while letting everyone know that he’s still racist AF.
NBC San Diego reports that photos taken of the man wearing a white hood at a Vons grocery store made the rounds on social media over the weekend. Melissa Hill, a spokesperson for Vons, Albertsons and Pavilions stores in Southern California, said workers at the grocery chain repeatedly asked him to remove the hood but were ignored.
“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,” Hill said in a statement. “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.”
Hill isn’t the only one condemning the unidentified man’s actions. Santee Mayor John Minto denounced him while praising citizens and Vons employees for their efforts to address the situation.
“The citizens and Vons employees took steps to address the situation,” Minto said in a joint statement with the city council, NBC notes. “Many thanks to all who stepped forward to curtail this sad reminder of intolerance. Santee, its leaders, and I will not tolerate such behavior. Santee and its citizens are great, and this particular individual’s actions are not representative of us as a people and a wonderful city.”
Some witnesses to the incident pointed out that—despite the mayor’s claim that racists “are not representative” of Santee—the city has a history of racist behavior by skinhead groups and other white nationalists, which has earned Santee nicknames such as “Klantee” and “Stantucky,” according to the San Diego Tribune.
Anti-Defamation League San Diego Regional Director Tammy Gillies also joined people in condemning the man in the KKK hood.
“It’s shocking yet not surprising that even during these challenging times, we see people emboldened to express hate,” Gillies said. “History teaches us that during times of crisis people are looking for a scapegoat.”
According to the Tribune, the incident occurred a day after a mandate took effect requiring San Diego County residents to wear face coverings in public places.