Paul and Laurene Laumann i’d as Marshall, Minnesota couple banned from Walmart over swastika face masks controversy. Video filmed by Raphaela Mueller.
Cellphone footage posted to Facebook by vicar Raphaela Mueller shows the couple since identified by social media as Paul Laumann, 59 and Laurene Laumann, 64, wearing bandana masks adorned with giant swastikas while paying for their purchases at the cash register.
In the video, a man who is off camera can be heard telling the couple, ‘You’re sick. You have an illness, you can’t be American and wear that mask.’
As the man is speaking, the woman flashes her middle fingers at the camera.
The man also raises his arms into the air, before resuming putting items onto the conveyor belt.
‘We literally had a war about this,’ the off-camera man says, as the swastika-decked woman saunters over.
A second man off-camera says, ‘My grandfather killed Nazis.’
The woman then paces around, denying she’s a Nazi, saying instead ‘socialism is going to happen here in America’ and that ‘If you vote for Biden, this is what we’re going to have, socialism!’
One of the off-camera men brands the mask, ‘so incredibly offensive’ as the woman walks away.
Posted Mueller, vicar of a southwest Minnesota parish on Facebook: ‘I was born and raised in Germany, and I grew up hearing about my great-grandmother who fought in the underground against the first wave of Nazis in the 1930s and 40s.
‘Let me make this abundantly clear once and for all – THE SWASTIKA IS A HATE SYMBOL AND YOU DO NOT FLY THE FLAG, YOU DO NOT WEAR THE SYMBOL ANYWHERE ON YOUR BODY, YOU DO NOT USE OR DEFEND THIS SYMBOL, EVER. END OF STORY.’
Mueller wrote on Facebook that the store manager said ‘he didn’t have the power to keep them out, regardless of what mask they were wearing.’
She also noted that she intended to call the customer service hotline and ‘work my way as far to the top of the food chain as I can.’
‘They won’t (shouldn’t?) allow people without face masks now that their new rule is in effect, offensive masks should be in the same category as no masks,’ Mueller added.
Police told KARE that they were called to the Walmart at about noon Saturday because the couple’s masks were creating a disturbance at the location.
Marshall PD then issued the couple – identified only as a 59-year-old man and a 64-year-old woman – with a notice of trespass. The duo then left the store without incident, police said.
On Saturday night, Walmart issued a statement about the incident.
‘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,’
‘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.’
Walmart also said the trespass notices issued to the couple ban them from going to any Walmart for at least a year.
The couple had apparently decided to wear the swastika bandannas as a way to protest the state’s mandatory mask rule, which went into effect Saturday and was issued to help slow the spread of coronavirus, according to the Star Tribune.
Although authorities haven’t named the couple, Facebook users identified the couple as die hard Trump supporters, Paul and Laurene Laumann, with one user posting, they ‘have been known bigot [sic] in the town for awhile now,’
Adding, ‘They spray painted “build the wall” on their garage one year. I had to drive to the middleschooleach [sic] day and pass it.’
While the swastika-wearing couple are not facing charges stemming from this incident, they could be arrested if they step food inside a Walmart in the next 365 days.