Several photos and videos circulating online show the man shopping while wearing the large, pointed white KKK hoodie at a Vons grocery store in Santee, California, on Saturday. He also wore a camouflage T-shirt and dark shorts, and had a long gray scraggly ponytail along his back.
“I was incredulous,” witness Melissa S. told The San Diego Times. “He was standing behind me in the queue, standing quietly,” said Melissa, who asked not to disclose her last name. She was one of several people who took photos and shared them online.
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Melissa said another man in a wheelchair “greeted” the man in the hood at one point.
“I took the photo because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” she said.
Clerks have repeatedly asked the man to remove the hood or leave the store, a spokesman for Vons grocery stores told the L.A. Times. He finally removed the hood after a store manager told him to do so at the starting line, the spokesperson said.
“Several employees gathered and told the man to remove the hood or that he should leave, so he removed the hood,” witness Tiam Tellez confirmed in a Facebook post, where he shared several images. of man.
The San Diego Sheriff’s Department has not been called regarding the initial incident but is currently investigating the matter, he said in a statement. declaration Monday.
Tammy Gillies, regional director of the San Diego Anti-Defamation League, condemned the incident and called for justice in a tweet on Sunday. She also questioned the grocery store’s apparently slow response to the incident and offered to “educate” its staff about the problem.
“San Diego is #NoPlaceForHate,” she writes.
“It is shocking but not surprising that, even in these difficult times, we see people emboldened to express their hatred,” Gillies told NBC San Diego. “History has taught us that in times of crisis, people look for a scapegoat.”
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Vons called the incident “disturbing” and said he would work with employees on how to handle such incidents in the future.
Santee Mayor John Minto on Sunday condemned the incident on behalf of city and city council. He described the hood as a “symbol of hatred” and thanked “everyone who stepped forward to limit this sad reminder of intolerance.”
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“Santee, its leaders and I will not tolerate such behavior,” said Minto in his statement. “Santee and its citizens are great, and the actions of this particular individual do not represent us as a wonderful people and city.”
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The city has spent years trying to carve out a reputation that has earned it nicknames such as “Klantee” and “Santucky,” according to local reports. Several racially motivated attacks have occurred in Santee over the years, including one case in 1998 where five white men broke the neck of a black Marine at a party. The Marine is paralyzed by the assault.
The grocery incident revived the Klantee label on Twitter over the weekend.
San Diego County on Friday introduced new measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, forcing all individuals to wear masks in public.
No arrests were made and the identity of the suspect was not disclosed.
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