“The San Diego County Sheriff's Department has been made aware of an incident involving a man wearing a white Ku Klux Klan hood at a grocery store in Santee on Saturday, May 2nd. Deputies were not called to the scene at the time the incident took place. Detectives from the Sheriff's Department are looking into the matter and will pursue any appropriate criminal charges,” the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department wrote in a Monday news release.
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“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,” the statement added.
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Photographs shared on social media suggest that the shopper is a middle-aged white man who was wearing shorts and a T-shirt at the time of the incident.
In a joint statement with the city council released Sunday, Santee Mayor John Minto called the hood a “symbol of hatred.”
“Many thanks to all who stepped forward to curtail this sad reminder of intolerance. Santee, its leaders and I will not tolerate such behavior,” Minto’s statement adds.
A witness who saw the shopper and posted photos of him on social media told the Times of San Diego that she was “in disbelief.”
“He was behind me in line. A man in a wheelchair [went] past and saluted him, and he laughed. I took the photo because I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. I’ve grown up in Santee and have never seen such racism right before my eyes,” she told the outlet.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Santee, which has been nicknamed “Klantee,” has a history of racist incidents and white nationalist activity.
This is not the only incident involving the use of racist symbols to occur during the coronavirus outbreak in the US. In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said that Confederate flags and swastikas were displayed at the state’s Capitol building last week in protest of lockdown measures.
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“The Confederate flags and nooses, the swastikas, the behavior that you’ve seen in all of the clips is not representative of who we are in Michigan,” Whitmer is quoted as saying at the time.