Police in a city outside of San Diego, California are investigating after a man wore a KKK hood into a grocery store one day after the city mandated that people wear facial coverings in public.
As The San Diego Union-Tribune reported, pictures on social media showed the man pushing a shopping cart while wearing a white KKK-style hood over his entire head and shopping in a Vons store in the city of Santee. The report noted that staff at the store repeatedly told the man to either take off the hood or leave the store, and he eventually took it off as he was at the checkout.
The pictures showed what appeared to be a middle-aged man wearing dark cargo-style shorts and a camouflage t-shirt, at one point holding a bag of produce as he went about shopping with the large white KKK hood over his head.
The incident occurred a day after the city put in place a new rule requiring San Diego residents to wear facial coverings in public in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. A number of other states and cities have adopted similar measures, following recommendations from public health experts that widespread mask-wearing can slow the spread of the deadly virus.
The pictures from the Vons store attracted some viral interest and led Santee Mayor John Minto to speak out against the incident, condemning the man's actions. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department also issued a statement on Monday saying that detectives were investigating the matter and would pursue any appropriate criminal charges, including those related to hate crimes.
"The Sheriff's Department does not condone hate or any acts of intolerance in our communities," the department said in a statement. "We are a county that is welcoming of people from all backgrounds."
Other local politicians spoke out against the incident as well, saying such acts would not be tolerated in the community.A spokesperson for Vons added that the store makes it a priority to create an atmosphere of "courtesy, dignity, and respect," and said this weekend's incident is under investigation.
"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," said Melissa Hill, a company spokesperson.
As the New York Post noted, the city of Santee has a history of racially charged incidents, which has led to unflattering nicknames such as "Klantee."