Updated: July 26, 2020 10:39 PM
Created: July 26, 2020 07:57 PM
Two people wore swastika-emblazoned masks inside a Marshall, Minnesota, store Saturday as a form of political statement against Gov. Tim Walz's recent executive orders concerning COVID-19, including the latest order mandating masks.
Other shoppers recorded the two on their cell phones as they checked out of the store and urged them to take the masks off because they were considered offensive.
The two declined and attempted to justify wearing the Nazi masks as a form of protest for the recent executive orders which have shut portions of the state's economy down.
The two were cited for trespassing, and Walmart told Marshall Police the two were not allowed back on store property for at least a year.
Marshall Mayor Robert Byrnes said he was disappointed to see the swastikas in his town and said the couple's attitude is not representative of Marshall's 14,000 residents.
"I think, like everybody, I was shocked saw it," Byrnes said. "It almost didn't look real, and my first reaction was this something that was just staged for a social media event."
Walz issued a statement on social media in which he called the masks "Disgraceful, plain and simple."
"Thank you to the bystanders who stood up to this unacceptable, hate-fueled behavior," he added.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who is Jewish, also weighed in on the incident.
"My extended family was slaughtered during the Holocaust," Frey tweeted. "To me, Nazism isn’t a distant concept confined to history textbooks. These actions aren’t just misguided — they’re a galling reminder of the work we have to do to stamp out hate and unite around a shared path forward."
Religious groups, including the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, condemned the use of Nazi imagery.
“We stand in solidarity with the neighbors disgusted by this hateful display, as well as the greater Jewish and non-Jewish communities who are outraged by this symbol of genocide and tyranny," the JCRC said in a statement.
The group also said comparisons between the Holocaust and measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — as the couple wearing swastika masks did in the video — "insult the memory" of Holocaust victims and survivors.
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