By: CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News
(MARSHALL, Minn.) — The couple seen in a now-viral video wearing face coverings with Nazi swastikas while shopping at a Walmart in Marshall, Minnesota, are not allowed at any Walmart stores for the next year.
Video of the incident was captured and shared on Facebook by bystander Raphaela Mueller. It has garnered over 230,000 views on the platform since Sunday.
“I was speechless,” Mueller told ABC News of what she saw. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. I turned to my partner and said, ‘Wow, did I just see that right?'”
Mueller said that shortly after they saw the couple at the store on Saturday morning, they decided to report them to the store’s manager.
As they were waiting to speak to the manager, Mueller said the couple — still clad in the face coverings — showed up at a register across from them and that’s when she started recording.
In the video, the unidentified couple seemed to argue that it is a political statement. The woman wearing the swastika-adorned mask appears defiant in the video, talking in the direction of the camera as she responds to other customers who are strongly objecting to their masks. “If you vote for Biden,” the woman appears to be saying, “you’re going to be living in Nazi Germany, that’s what it’s going to be like.”
Eventually, Mueller said, there was a lot of commotion and the couple was escorted out of the store by police.
Mueller said she felt compelled to do something and not stay silent because of her own personal family history.
“My great-grandmother fought in the Underground Resistance against the first wave of Nazis and risked her life for other people,” she said. “I had that underlying knowledge in my head of, ‘Wow, if I don’t say anything now, what did she risk her life for?'”
She added that while many people think something like this “is never going to happen in our communities” she thinks that “it’s not that these events are more frequent right now, it is that they are being filmed more often.
“I want people to get more comfortable with stepping in and speaking up,” she added.
Walmart called the incident “unacceptable,” and said the individuals have been trespassed from all Walmart facilities for at least one year, meaning they could face trespassing charges if they go to a Walmart.
“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,” the company told ABC News in a statement. “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.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz responded to the incident on Twitter, calling it “disgraceful, plain and simple.”
“Thank you to the bystanders who stood up to this unacceptable, hate-fueled behavior,” the governor added.
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