'It was a mask and it was stupid!': Man who wore a KKK hood while shopping in the San Diego area will not be charged because his offensive garment is protected under the First Amendment

A man who went grocery shopping with a KKK hood in a California town with a history of racist incidents won't be charged for wearing the offensive garb, as it is protected by free speech.  
According to a statement from the San Diego Sheriff's Department, the man explained to authorities that the 'hood was not intended to be a racial statement' but was intended to show his 'frustration with the coronavirus and having people tell him what he can and can not do.' 
The unidentified man shocked residents in the San Diego suburb when he sported the KKK hood on May 2, just days before another area local - Dustin Hart, aka Dusty Shekel - wore a mask with a Nazi swastika attached during his shopping trip in a Santee store. 
The San Diego Sheriff's Department has announced that it won't charge the man who wore a KKK hood while shopping in a Vons supermarket in Santee on May 2, citing his protections under the First Amendment
The San Diego Sheriff's Department has announced that it won't charge the man who wore a KKK hood while shopping in a Vons supermarket in Santee on May 2, citing his protections under the First Amendment
The unnamed shopper was pictured at the location just days before Dustin Hart (pictured) was seen wearing a Nazi swastika flag on his mask at another Santee store
The unnamed shopper was pictured at the location just days before Dustin Hart (pictured) was seen wearing a Nazi swastika flag on his mask at another Santee store
'It was a mask, and it was stupid,' the unnamed man reportedly told the investigating parties, according to the statement sent to CBS 8. 
A joint investigation by the department, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the San Diego District Attorney's Office found that there was 'insufficient evidence' to charge the man. 
In determining not to charge the man, the sheriff's department cited a Supreme Court decision that ruled: 'The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express the thought that we hate.' 
'That said, this incident should serve as a reminder for anyone contemplating wearing or displaying items closely associated with hate and human suffering that our society does not hold in high regards those who do so,' the sheriff's department added in their statement.
'It was a mask and it was stupid,' the unnamed man reportedly told the investigating parties, adding that he did not mean to make a 'racial statement'
'It was a mask and it was stupid,' the unnamed man reportedly told the investigating parties, adding that he did not mean to make a 'racial statement' 
In determining not to charge the man, the sheriff's department cited a Supreme Court decision that ruled: 'The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express the thought that we hate'
In determining not to charge the man, the sheriff's department cited a Supreme Court decision that ruled: 'The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express the thought that we hate'
'Santee is a city of families and the community is rightfully disgusted at this man's despicable behavior.'      
Just the week before the May 2 incident, San Diego County mandated that all residents wear face coverings to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Vons employees at the location on Mission Gorge Road noticed the man and approached him, demanding that he remove the hood or leave the store.
But the man refused and continued shopping.
Vons employees at the location on Mission Gorge Road noticed the man and approached him, demanding that he remove the hood or leave the store
Vons employees at the location on Mission Gorge Road noticed the man and approached him, demanding that he remove the hood or leave the store 
Initially the man refused but he would eventually remove the offensive garment
Initially the man refused but he would eventually remove the offensive garment 
As he stood at the checkout line, a store supervisor approached him once again and demanded that he take off the hood or leave, a spokesperson for Vons, Albertsons and Pavilions stores told The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The man eventually removed the hood and purchased his items. He then left without incident. 
Vons released a statement to DailyMail.com which read: 'At Vons, fostering an environment of courtesy, dignity, and respect is one of our highest priorities, and we work hard to hold everyone in our stores to these standards, including customers.
'Unfortunately, an alarming and isolated incident occurred at our Vons store in Santee, where a customer chose an inflammatory method of wearing a face covering.
'Needless to say, it was shocking.
The man in the Klan hood is seen above getting some fruit during his shopping trip on Saturday
The man in the Klan hood is seen above getting some fruit during his shopping trip on Saturday
The man removed the hood, completed his purchase, and left the Vons store in Santee (seen above) without incident
The man removed the hood, completed his purchase, and left the Vons store in Santee (seen above) without incident
'Several members of our team asked the customer to remove it, and all requests were ignored until the customer was 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.'

Images of the man in his hood circulated on social media. He was also photographed without the hood.
The man, a middle-age Caucasian, was seen with long hair wrapped in a pony-tail. He was wearing a camo t-shirt and black shorts.
The images of the man in the white hood ignited outrage on social media, prompting public officials and anti-hate groups to condemn the incident. 
Santee Mayor John Minto praised the Vons employees who stepped in and demanded that the customer remove the offensive hood.
'Many thanks to all who stepped forward to curtail this sad reminder of intolerance,' the mayor said.
John Minto, the mayor of Santee, praised the Vons employees who stepped in and demanded that the customer remove the offensive hood
John Minto, the mayor of Santee, praised the Vons employees who stepped in and demanded that the customer remove the offensive hood
'Santee, its leaders and I will not tolerate such behavior.'
San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacobs said: 'The images I've seen are abhorrent.
'This blatant racism has no place in Santee or any part of San Diego County. 
'It is not who we are. It is not what we stand for and can't be tolerated.' 
'San Diego is #NoPlaceForHate,' Tammy Gillies, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in the San Diego area, said on Twitter. 
Last year, officials in Santee hired a Tennessee-based marketing firm to help improve the town's image.
Santee, a town of 60,000 tucked into a corner of east San Diego County in Southern California, has experienced a development boom in recent decades.
¿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 response to angry social media users
'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 response to angry social media users
But it is also in the midst of an effort to rebrand itself as a welcoming community for all after being known for unflattering nicknames like 'Klantee' and 'Santucky.'
Santee has a reputation of being a hotbed of racist activity.
The most high-profile hate crime took place in 1998, when five white men left an African American Marine paralyzed after breaking his neck during an alcohol-fueled ambush at a party.
Despite California's image as a liberal haven, it has also historically been home to several active hate organizations, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In Southern California, the Ku Klux Klan has held rallies and demonstrations over the course of decades.
In April of last year, a 19-year-old gunman believed to have been motivated by far-right ideology killed one worshipper and wounded three others at a synagogue in Poway, just outside of San Diego. 
'It was a mask and it was stupid!': Man who wore a KKK hood while shopping in the San Diego area will not be charged because his offensive garment is protected under the First Amendment 'It was a mask and it was stupid!': Man who wore a KKK hood while shopping in the San Diego area will not be charged because his offensive garment is protected under the First Amendment Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 08:10 Rating: 5

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