Raphaela Mueller, the vicar of a southwest Minnesota parish, filmed the 59-year-old man and 64-year-old woman at the Marshall Walmart on July 25, the Star Tribune reported. The roughly two-minute clip shows shoppers confronting the couple as they purchase their items at a cash register.
Mueller uploaded the video to Facebook, writing:
“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.
The video has since been shared over 2,000 times and has more than 2,400 comments.
Local law enforcement served the couple with trespass notices, warning arrest should they return, the Star Tribune continued.
The unidentified man and woman “left without incident and charges were not pursued,” the newspaper said.
Walmart issued a statement to KARE later that evening condemning the incident:
What happened today at our store in Marshall, MN 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.
We are asking everyone to wear face coverings when they enter our stores for their safety and the safety of others and 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.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Couple Has Been Banned For at Least a Year
In the video, a man off-camera is heard telling the couple, “You’re sick. You have an illness, you can’t be American and wear that mask.”
The woman then raises her arms to flip off the crowd as she heads toward the camera.
A second off-camera man says, “My grandfather killed Nazis,” to which the woman angrily responds that she is “not a Nazi.”
“If you vote for Biden, you’re going to be living in Nazi Germany,” she exclaims.
Multiple bystanders demand that the woman and her partner take off their masks.
One off-camera man characterizes the swastika-adorned bandannas as “so incredibly offensive.”
Police told KARE that they were called to the Walmart around noon on a report that the couple’s masks were causing a disturbance.
Walmart confirmed that the notices issued to the couple bar them from visiting any Walmart for at least one year, KARE continued.
The Couple Was Offered Disposable Masks As Alternative
In a statement obtained by the Seattle Times, Walmart disclosed that store management offered the couple disposable masks, but they refused.
“Store management offered the individuals disposable face masks as an alternative, which they refused. The individuals became belligerent and were asked to leave the store by store management,” the company said.
The newspaper reported that July 25 was the first day of Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order requiring masks in businesses and indoor public spaces to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Masks are already a requirement for customers at Walmart, the outlet added.
The Video Has Sparked Outrage on Social Media
Many have taken to Twitter and other social media platforms to express their anger over the couple’s behavior.
While some took the opportunity to condemn President Donald Trump’s supporters, others claimed that the couple should be banned for life.
Below are some of the responses on Twitter:
This couple in Minnesota went into a Walmart wearing Nazi flags as masks.
They said they were "protesting mask mandates"
There is NEVER an acceptable excuse to wear a swastika. I am disgusted. pic.twitter.com/wG0eWwE6Ji
— TaeTae is BaeBaeᴺᵒ ᵗʰᵒᵘᵍʰᵗˢ ʲᵘˢᵗ ᴶᶦⁿᵏᶦ🐳⁷⟭⟬ (@ShorterthanJ) July 26, 2020
2 losers wore a Nazi mask to a rural Walmart in my state. It's front page news in local media. With 300 million Americans, it's easy to find 'proof' that America's biggest problem right now is right-wing extremism. https://t.co/GQmJs8xYKJ
— Eric Falkenstein (@egfalken) July 26, 2020
Yesterday, after MN's mask mandate went into effect, a couple protested the health measure by wearing swastika face coverings. Wearing a mask in public is the safe, responsible, & patriotic thing to do, and to compare it to Nazi fascism is indefensible.https://t.co/9BvtQ56GA5
— Antone Melton-Meaux (@Antone_MN) July 26, 2020
— Jason Simmons (@jason_w_simmons) July 26, 2020
Apparently Walmart banned the swastika mask couple in Minnesota from all locations for ONE YEAR and like come the fuck on why not just permaban them
— scrotum phillips (@mustachetoilet) July 27, 2020