Walmart banned two customers for wearing Nazi flags with swastikas as face coverings when they returned to a Minnesota store. A video of the couple being confronted by other customers went viral on Facebook after it was published on Saturday. Walmart has been requiring all customers to wear face coverings in stores to help slow the coronavirus pandemic since Monday, while Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued a statewide order requiring people to wear masks indoors beginning Saturday.
At the beginning of the video, Benjamin Resch, 29, is heard telling the couple, "You're sick. You have an illness. You can't be American and wear that mask. You cannot. We literally had a war about this." The woman insisted she was "not a Nazi" and was "trying to show you what's going to happen in America." She said if anyone votes for former Vice President Joe Biden, "you're gonna be in Nazi Germany. That's what it's going to like." The man, who wore a shirt showing support for President Donald Trump said "we're living under a socialist state."
Reusch, who filmed the video with Raphaela Mueller, 24, told BuzzFeed News he was in total disbelief when they saw the couple wearing the Nazi flags. He believed the two were trying to get a reaction from someone, but he felt he had to speak up. "I’m still in disbelief because I never thought I of all people would end up in that situation but this is the reality we’re living," Reusch said. "Boy, am I awake now."
The couple refused to take off the flags, even when offered alternate masks. Store managers asked them to leave as they confronted employees, and police were called to the scene. They were given trespass notices and banned from Walmart stores for the next year. A Walmart spokesperson called the incident "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," the spokesman said, reports CBS Minnesota. "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."
Mueller published the video on Facebook and told BuzzFeed she is from Germany. Seeing the Nazi face coverings brought back memories of her great-grandmother, who lived in Berlin during the Nazi regime. "There's a lot of pain involved because I know what my great-grandmother fought for and the sacrifices she made," Mueller explained. "There was this mix of deep disappointment, pain, and anger."