A couple has been temporarily banned from all Walmart locations in the U.S. after being seen at a Walmart in Marshall, Minnesota, wearing face masks with swastikas while shopping in protest of the state’s mandate requiring masks in public amid coronavirus.
The 59-year-old man and 64-year-old woman, whose names have not been released, were reportedly confronted by multiple shoppers in the Walmart on Saturday. Another shopper, identified as a local resident Raphaela Mueller, got into a verbal exchange with the woman while she was waiting to be checked out. Mueller recorded the exchange and posted it to Facebook, where it went viral shortly after.
“If you vote for Biden, you’re going to be living in Nazi Germany,” the woman is heard saying to Mueller during their exchange. The woman also exchanged insults with a man heard off-camera identified as local Benjamin Ruesch.
“I was crying when I was taking the video,” Mueller told Minnesota Reformer. Mueller said she was the descendant of a Nazi resister and the sight of the flag made her feel sick.
“This is really traumatic to see something like this because we all know what happened during the Holocaust. To be so blatantly disrespectful is so hurtful.”
Police said they were called to the store by an employee and spoke with everyone involved in the exchange. Officers said the couple was told they were banned from all U.S. Walmarts for at least one year, served a notice for trespassing, and told they would face criminal charges if they returned.
No one else involved in the exchange wanted to file criminal charges against the couple.
“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,” Walmart said in a press release on Saturday. “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.”