Local leaders and Vons are condemning a reported incident in which witnesses say a man wore a face covering resembling a Ku Klux Klan hood while shopping. The incident occurred Saturday at a Vons location in Santee, according to a statement by Vons' owner, Albertsons Companies, Inc.
A spokesperson says that employees confronted the customer, photographed here, about the offensive face covering, asked him to remove it, and ignored his requests in the checkout area.
A KKK hood worn openly at a Vons in Santee, CA, near San Diego.
The area’s been a hub of white supremacist and skinhead activity for many years, earning the nickname Klantee. pic.twitter.com/uB5ai0wETB
— Nico Pitney (@nicopitney) May 3, 2020
"Needless to say, it was shocking. Several members of our team asked the customer to remove it, and all requests were ignored until the customer was in the checkout area. 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," a statement from Albertsons Companies read.
San Diego Sheriff's Department said Monday that deputies were not called to the store on Saturday, but that SDSO detectives are "looking into the matter and will pursue any appropriate criminal charges."
Saturday's incident also drew a response from local leaders, including Santee Mayor John Minto, who said that the city "will not tolerate such behavior."
"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," Minto wrote.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob added that, “The images I’ve seen are abhorrent. This blatant racism has no place in Santee or any part of San Diego County. It is not who we are. It is not what we stand for and can’t be tolerated.”
The Anti-Defamation League said during the coronavirus pandemic, they have seen attacks on minority communities, including an increase in anti-Semitism.
"History teaches us that during times of crisis people are looking for a scapegoat. During these times of COVID-19 we have seen the AAPI community targeted, as well as other minority communities, including an uptick in anti-Semitism. We are here for the community 24/7 and hope the San Diego community will come together and reaffirm that San Diego is no place for hate," an ADL statement read.