Shopper in KKK hood won't face charges
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The customer who shopped at a grocery store while wearing a face covering that resembled a Ku Klux Klan hood will not face charges, police announced Monday.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said in a press release that the department did not find sufficient evidence to charge the man who wore the apparent KKK hood to a Vons supermarket in Santee, Calif., on May 2. The U.S. attorney’s office and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office were consulted in the decision.

“The man expressed frustration with the coronavirus and having people tell him what he can and cannot do,” the release said. “He said that wearing the hood was not intended to be a racial statement. In summary he said, ‘It was a mask and it was stupid.’”

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The release cited the Supreme Court’s ruling that hateful speech is protected under the First Amendment but said Santee residents were “rightfully disgusted” with the man’s “despicable behavior.” 

“That said, this incident should serve as a reminder for anyone contemplating wearing or displaying items so closely associated with hate and human suffering that our society does not hold in high regard those who do so,” the release says.

The photos and videos of the man wearing the apparent KKK hood sparked condemnation, including from Santee Mayor John Minto, according to CNN.

Vons told CNN that employees at the marketplace had requested the man remove the hood, but he refused until 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," Vons said in the statement.

San Diego County has published guidance urging people to wear face coverings when leaving their homes. 

A few days after the KKK incident, a different man wore a swastika face mask at a Food 4 Less grocery in Santee, saying it was a protest against face masks, NBC San Diego reported.