Santee Vons KKK hood wearer won’t be charged as free speech protects the San Diego, California man to express his views no matter how hateful or offensive.
Free to hate with abandon.
A California man who went grocery shopping wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood last week said he didn’t mean to make ‘a racial statement’ as authorities declined to press charges according to a release on Monday.
The hooded shopper was spotted in the aisles of a Vons supermarket in Santee on May 2, with aghast shoppers taking video footage of the man and imploring management to remove the ‘racist man’ from the store.
In deciding not to charge the ‘offending’ man, the Sheriff’s Department cited free-speech protections.
‘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 NBC News.
‘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.”
White Man Wears KKK Hood to Grocery Store after County Orders Public to Wear Masks!🤔
Pictures of a White man wearing the white hood while shopping inside a Vons store in the San Diego County city of Santee pic.twitter.com/CUzhOSzwtK
— WOKEVIDEO (@wokevideo) May 5, 2020
The right to offend at all costs:
Despite widespread condemnation of the man who San Diego authorities have since identified but declined to publicly identify – authorities said there was not enough evidence to charge the ‘offending’ man with a crime.
The U.S. Supreme Court has said that ‘speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express the thought that we hate,” said the release.
Read a statement by the US attorney’s office and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office: ‘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.’
Last week’s Santee episode continues to prompt expressions of shock and dismay online, including one from county Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who represents Santee and other East County neighborhoods.
‘Sad, vile acts like this must not be tolerated here or anywhere else,’ she tweeted Friday afternoon. ‘It’s deeply offensive to the community and our entire region.’