SANTEE, Calif. - A Southern California man who went to grocery shopping in a Ku Klux Klan hood last week will not be charged with a crime, police said Tuesday, adding that he didn’t mean to make “a racial statement.”
The shocking and offensive outfit was spotted Saturday, May 2, at a Vons grocery store in Santee, a day after San Diego County's face-covering requirement went into effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The man expressed frustration with the coronavirus and having people tell him what he can and cannot do,” the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement to FOX 11.
“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.'”
Authorities have not released the man's identity.
Both the US attorney’s office and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office investigated the incident. Police said neither found enough evidence to charge the man with a crime.
“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 sheriff’s department said in the statement.
“Santee is a city of families, and the community is rightfully disgusted at this man’s despicable behavior,” it added. “The Sheriff’s Department thoroughly investigates incidents such as these and will hold those who violate the law accountable.”
"The Santee City Council, its citizens, and I stand resolute in our indignation of such display," Santee Mayor John Minto said in a statement. "There is no room in our society for racial prejudice, and these incidents are not indicative of the people of Santee."
The mayor added that he will be recommending at the next city council meeting that the city expand its Community Oriented Policing Committee and take on the issue of intolerance in the city of Santee.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.