By Mary Papenfuss, Huffington Post
A customer wearing a swastika face mask was confronted by deputies at a food store in the same southern California community where another shopper wore a Ku Klux Klan hood just days ago.
The latest shopper, who goes by “Dusty Shekel” on Facebook, removed the swastika after ordered to do so by deputies called to the scene at Food 4 Less in Santee on Thursday, said law enforcement authorities.
The shopper — who later identified himself to the Times of San Diego (and to police) as Santee resident Dustin Hart — uploaded a video of his confrontation with a store clerk and a pair of deputies called to the scene to deal with a “disturbance.” He claimed it was his “First Amendment” right to wear the mask. But one of the deputies pointed out that he was in a “family friendly” private store that “can make their own rules.” The officer added: “They don’t want people seeing that. It’s offensive.”
Seconds earlier, a store clerk asked him to remove the mask because it was “basically a hate crime.” He refused.
Hart appeared to be with his wife, who was pushing a baby stroller with a child. She was wearing a mask, but it didn’t include a swastika on the video. She was wearing a black T-shirt with the “honkler” clown version of Pepe the Frog, a white nationalist meme.
“We were peacefully protesting all the crazy lockdown rules that have been and are continuing to be enforced here in San Diego, California,” Hart said in a caption accompanying his video post on BitChute, a right-wing video platform that often features hate speech. “These crazy rules are destroying any quality of life we had left. Now we are unemployed and literally have nothing better to do and no where else we are allowed to be.”
You can check out the video here:
The San Diego Sheriff’s Department issued a statement saying that when deputies “asked for the symbol to be removed, the man complied.” Investigators will “continue to look into the matter,” the statement added. “The Sheriff’s Department does not condone hate or acts of intolerance. We are a county that is welcoming of people from all backgrounds.” The shopper was not identified.
Sad, vile acts like this must not be tolerated here or anywhere else. It’s deeply offensive to the community and our entire region. I want to commend those who alerted law enforcement and our Sheriff’s deputies for their fast response.https://t.co/VcPhCBzrbi
— Dianne Jacob (@dianne_jacob) May 8, 2020
Clerks and customers confronted another man provocatively wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood as a face covering in a Vons supermarket in Santee just last weekend. He refused to remove the hood until shortly before he paid for his groceries and left.
Police identified that shopper at Vons on Tuesday, but did not release his name. They’re continuing to investigate, and will “pursue any appropriate charges” in that instance, said a statement.
People in the community expressed outrage — again — on Friday. San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said that such “sad, vile acts like this must not be tolerated here or anywhere else. It’s deeply offensive to the community and our entire region.”
Santee has a dark history of racist attacks and skinhead activity that earned the San Diego suburb of some 55,000 people the nicknames “Klantee” and “Santucky.”
A man grocery shopping with a KKK hood in Santee, California. The city of Santee has a history of racism & people in southern California call it 'Klantee'. This is Trump's America. pic.twitter.com/AYRdnMVnXK
— Stone (@stonecold2050) May 3, 2020
White supremacist and anti-Semitic symbols have become intertwined with protests against COVID-19 safety measures.
The Auschwitz Museum deplored the use of a Nazi slogan by a protester in Chicago earlier this month. She held aloft a sign reading: “Arbeit Macht Frei J.B.” The phrase means “work sets you free,” and was posted at some Nazi death camps where Jews and others were worked to death or killed during World War II. “J.B.” Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, is Jewish.
Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a recent interview condemned racist symbols, including Confederate flags and swastikas, displayed by some in a protest against stay-at-home COVID-19 safety measures at the state’s Capitol building last month.
This article originally appeared on Huffington Post.