An investigation has since been launched to identify the man and pursue appropriate criminal charges.
In appalling news, a man was spotted wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood while out shopping for groceries at a Santee, San Diego, supermarket. While all customers have been urged to wear face masks or coverings during the ongoing pandemic, such an egregious act of hate was definitely not expected. Fellow shoppers managed to snap a photograph of the man and post it to Twitter. The photos have sparked outrage from the city's mayor as well as the Anti-Defamation League in San Diego, amongst others. An investigation is currently underway. It is unclear if the man will face repercussions for his actions, The Los Angeles Times reports.
A KKK hood worn openly at a Vons in Santee, CA, near San Diego.— Nico Pitney (@nicopitney) May 3, 2020
The area’s been a hub of white supremacist and skinhead activity for many years, earning the nickname Klantee. pic.twitter.com/uB5ai0wETB
The incident took place at a Vons branch located in Santee on Mission Gorge Road. According to a corporate spokeswoman, the man was repeatedly asked to remove the hood by grocery store clerks. He was told if he did not remove the hood, he would have to leave the store. However, he refused to comply. It was only after a supervisor found him while he was standing at the checkout line and asked him to take the hood off again that he finally complied, Melissa Hill, a spokeswoman for Vons, Albertsons, and Pavilions stores in Southern California, revealed. The man reportedly took off the hood, paid for his purchases, and left the store.
#KlanteeMan seen in Santee, CA supermarket (Von's; 9643 Mission Gorge Rd.) wearing a KKK hood. Security merely asked him to remove it; no further actions were taken.— RolfFunCycleIII (@RolfFunCycleIII) May 3, 2020
Imagine being there, as a P.O.C., and suffering the apathy. @ACLU @TheRevAl @NAACP @Vons pic.twitter.com/wUMk8zL0fT
Several customers who were also shopping at the Vons outlet took photos of the man while he was wearing the hood and walking around the store. They subsequently uploaded these photos to various social media platforms. The photos show the man casually strolling through the floor of the supermarket, pushing a shopping cart in the store’s produce area, and fidgeting with a plastic produce bag while wearing the hood. In some photos, the man is seen standing behind his shopping cart without the hood on. He appears to be white and middle-aged. Following the incident, Tammy Gillies, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in the San Diego area, posted on Twitter, "[I] ] don’t know which angers me more - the person wearing this or the fact that no one in management [at] Vons did anything about it... San Diego is #NoPlaceForHate."
Santee Mayor John Minto also condemned the man's actions. "There was an incident in Santee on Saturday where citizens photographed a male wearing attire that depicted a symbol of hatred," he wrote in a statement issued on behalf of the city council. "The citizens and Vons employees took steps to address the situation. 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." Residents of the area, too, chimed in.
They claimed the man's actions did not represent the values of the city of almost 60,000 residents. For the past few years, the city has been trying to respectfully overcome their long history of racially motivated attacks and skinhead activity. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has since announced it was looking into the matter. They affirmed, "Detectives are looking into the matter and will pursue any appropriate criminal charges. The Sheriff’s Department does not condone hate or any acts of intolerance in our communities. We are a county that is welcoming of people from all backgrounds."
Vons Spokeswoman Hill shared that the franchise is looking into how they can prevent similar incidents from taking place in the future. "At Vons, fostering an environment of courtesy, dignity and respect is one of our highest priorities, and we work hard to hold everyone in our stores to these standards, including customers," she stated. "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."
Santee, California has a local nickname as "klantee" for a reason. Spotted yesterday at Vons grocery on Mission Gorge - pics from multiple witnesses.— J Dot M Dot (@DustyVinyl_FA) May 3, 2020
Fun when terrorists can walk around in broad daylight. #racist@shaunking @splcenter @vons @Safeway @CityofSantee @SDSOSantee pic.twitter.com/10lcPEeK1Y