Video has emerged of a man and a woman wearing swastika face masks as they shop at a Walmart in Minnesota.
The footage was captured on Saturday, the first day that Minnesota introduced mandatory face masks in public due to the coronavirus outbreak.
It was shared on Facebook by Raphaela Mueller, who spoke to CBS News about her encounter with the pair.
“I audibly gasped,” she said in a phone interview.
Some Americans protesting what they see as heavy-handed coronavirus orders, including mask-wearing and economic shutdowns, have compared the moves to Nazi racial laws and taken to waving swastikas or portraying leaders as Nazis to express their displeasure.
Jewish groups and others say the protest minimizes the Holocaust and can be construed as anti-Semitic.
Mueller, a Lutheran vicar, said that after noticing the man and woman she informed the store’s management but by then they were already at the checkout.
Mueller and her companion Benjamin Ruesch confronted the woman, who explained she was wearing the mask as a protest against Joe Biden’s bid to become president.
“If you vote for Biden you’re gonna be living in Nazi Germany, that’s what it’s going to be like. Socialism is gonna happen here in America!” the woman said in the video.
“You’re sick! Yeah, you’re sick,” Ruesch shouted. “You can’t be American and wear that mask … we literally had a war about this.”
“You’re not getting it, I’m not a Nazi,” the woman responded.
“Then why are you wearing the f*cking mask?” Mueller asked.
“Because I’m trying to tell you if you vote for Biden this is what you are going to have, socialism!” the woman said.
Edit, since this is going much further than I thought it would (and the trolls and haters are starting to roll in): I was born and raised in Germany, and I grew up hearing about my great-grandmother who fought in the underground against the first wave of Nazis in the 1930s and 40s. Let me make this abundantly clear once and for all – THE SWASTIKA IS A HATE SYMBOL AND YOU DO NOT FLY THE FLAG, YOU DO NOT WEAR THE SYMBOL ANYWHERE ON YOUR BODY, YOU DO NOT USE OR DEFEND THIS SYMBOL, EVER. END OF STORY.
פורסם על ידי Raphaela Mueller ב- יום שבת, 25 ביולי 2020
Mueller told CBS her grandmother Magdalena was a member of the Nazi-resistance organization called “The Red Chapel,” also known as “The Red Orchestra,” a European network that worked to encourage civil disobedience against the Nazi regime.
She said the video was so painful to her she could only watch it once and that she “was not prepared for seeing something like this with my own eyes” 75 years after the end of World War II.
Walmart told CBS a manager had offered the pair disposable masks but they refused.
Local police were alerted and the force told CBS News that the 59-year-old man and 64-year-old woman were given “trespass notices.” Walmart confirmed that means they are not permitted to enter any Walmart facility for a year.
Mueller later added to her Facebook post of the video: “since this is going much further than I thought it would (and the trolls and haters are starting to roll in): I was born and raised in Germany, and I grew up hearing about my great-grandmother who fought in the underground against the first wave of Nazis in the 1930s and 40s.”
“Let me make this abundantly clear once and for all – THE SWASTIKA IS A HATE SYMBOL AND YOU DO NOT FLY THE FLAG, YOU DO NOT WEAR THE SYMBOL ANYWHERE ON YOUR BODY, YOU DO NOT USE OR DEFEND THIS SYMBOL, EVER. END OF STORY,” she wrote.
In statement Walmart said that the incident is “unacceptable.”
“We strive to provide a safe and comfortable shopping environment for all our customers and will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment in any aspect of our business,” Walmart said.
“It’s unfortunate that some individuals have taken this pandemic as an opportunity to create a distressing situation for customers and associates in our store,” the statement said.