A couple has been banned from Walmart after wearing swastika-emblazoned face masks at one of the chain’s locations in Minnesota.
On Saturday, police were called to a Walmart store in the southwest city of Marshall, where customers appeared to have confronted two shoppers who wore masks that featured the icon used by the Nazi Party. (The swastika is a symbol of antisemitism and terror to Jews and other victims of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party that ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945.)
The incident was filmed by a customer named Raphaela Mueller, who posted the video on her Facebook page. At the store’s register, a customer was heard saying, “You’re sick,” to the couple. The woman said, “I’m not a Nazi,” and argued that the masks were worn to protest Joe Biden’s run in the 2020 presidential election.
“If you vote for Biden, you’re going to be [living] in Nazi Germany — that’s what it’s going to be like,” she said, while the man loaded bags into a shopping cart. Other customers then called the use of the mask “so incredibly offensive” and “not American.”
According to The Minneapolis Star Tribune, the officers gave trespass notices to the unnamed 59-year-old man and 64-year-old woman.
A Walmart spokesperson told local NBC station KARE 11 that store management had offered the couple disposable face coverings as an alternative to their swastika-designed masks, but the two were said to have refused them. “The individuals became belligerent and were asked to leave the store,” the representative said.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer added that it “will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment in any aspect of our business.” The two shoppers have been banned from Walmart stores across the country for one year.
Starting last week, Walmart began requiring customers at all of its 5,000-plus stores to wear face coverings. To monitor the policy, the company has created the new role of health ambassadors, who are uniformed in black polos and stationed near store entrances to remind uncovered customers of the mask mandate.
Walmart has exempted small children from its face mask requirement, as well as individuals who are unable to wear masks due to health conditions or religious beliefs.
“We know it may not be possible for everyone to wear a face covering,” Walmart U.S. COO Dacona Smith and Sam’s Club COO Lance de la Rosa wrote in a statement. “Our associates will be trained on those exceptions to help reduce friction for the shopper and make the process as easy as possible for everyone.”