On Saturday, a man in Santee, Calif. was photographed by several people wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood in a Vons while buying groceries. This occurred soon after San Diegans were ordered to wear face covers or masks when leaving the house amid COVID-19.
The incident, which was promptly posted on Facebook and Twitter initially, became viral and was reposted by Tammy Gillies, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in San Diego.
Gillies tweeted that “San Diego is #NoPlaceForHate,” and that she was angered by “…the fact that no one in management @Vons Santee did anything about it.”
As reported by the L.A. Times, the man was asked to remove his hood by Vons staff, and resisted only until reaching checkout, where he finally removed the controversial garment.
It is unclear if the First Amendment or the Unruh Civil Rights Act protect the man for his choice of clothing. This may be a good time to revisit the controversial case in the ’80s regarding four men evicted for wearing Nazi pins in a restaurant.
Moreover, it’s also interesting to revisit a 1970 response by the California Supreme Court to Crim. No. 13648. It states, “The shopping center may no more exclude [3 Cal.3d 218] individuals who wear…unconventional dress” in regards to the case.
Whether this ruling applies to the current incident, or if the KKK hood falls under “unconventional dress,” is currently unclear.
The ADL and the San Diego County Sheriff’s department will be looking further into the incident, according to the Washington Post.
San Diego’s Sheriff Department issued a press release two days after the incident saying, “Detectives from the Sheriff’s Department 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.”
Soon after the incident became viral, violent sentiments toward the man began spreading all over Twitter and Instagram, with people threatening to assault the man if they saw him wearing the white hood in public.
Similarly, the hashtag #BoycottVons has been gaining traction on Twitter as some Americans feel that that the public statements issued by Vons on Twitter and their initial response to the situation were not strict enough.
Many followers of Vons commented that the man should have been “immediately kicked out and banned” from the establishment.
Santee was often seen as a place of racial discrimination, being called “Klantee” and “Santucky” by some, according to the New York Post.
However, Santee Mayor John Minto, as reported by KUSI News, affirms that the incident is, “[A] 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.”