On Thursday, employees at the Dillon City Market in Dillon, about 70 miles west of Denver, noticed a customer wearing the hood traditionally associated with the Southern white supremacy group. Store employees asked the man to leave, which he allegedly refused to do. He also reportedly argued with other customers in the store who also took exception to his hood, according to Denver’s KUSA-TV.
Store employees called police. However, by the time police arrived, the man had already left.
A dude in a KKK hood showed up at my local grocery store — CityMarket in Dillon, Colorado — today. pic.twitter.com/KHHFq3p7ne
— Diana Brickell (@DianaBrickell) May 14, 2020
Kerstin Anderson, a spokesperson for the grocery store, said that Dillon police would like to make contact with the man.
“Right now, they’re trying to identify him, contact him and take it from there. Obviously, we take this kind of action very seriously,” Anderson said.
Similarly, in a statement, the grocery store chain said that garments that reference or propagate hate are not welcome in its stores.
“Our store leaders are empowered to swiftly and respectfully address anyone who disregards these values, which includes blatant symbols of hate and intolerance,” the statement reads.
What police could do if they identify and make contact with the man remains unclear. The store could charge him with trespassing for allegedly refusing to leave. But wearing the KKK hood does not appear to be a crime, in and of itself.
Colorado’s hate-crime laws, via attorney H. Michael Steinberg, indicate that there has to be either violence, the incitement of violence, or the threat of violence, in order for a hate crime to have taken place.
Further, the Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees of the right to free speech do not mean that business owners can’t limit free speech on their property. Business owners generally have the right, within certain limitations, to specify what sort of speech visitors within their walls can engage in, and can ask anyone violating those rules to leave the premises.
This appears to be the third instance of a person wearing an offensive garment to a grocery store since the country went into lockdown and localities began requiring people to wear masks in public.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, two such incidents took place in the Southern California city of Santee within days of each other. In one incident, a man was seen wearing a KKK hood in a grocery store, while in the other, a man argued with police about his right to wear a mask bearing a swastika while in a different supermarket.