Walmart Issues 1-Year Ban to Couple Seen Wearing Swastika Masks in Minn. Store: 'Unacceptable'
"The swastika is a trigger of trauma for so many people," said Raphaela Mueller, who filmed the incident and shared it to Facebook
A couple who wore face masks emblazoned with swastikas while shopping in a Minnesota Walmart has been banned from the retail store for at least a year after their attire — and defiant defense — was caught on video.
The unidentified man and woman were seen in a checkout lane at a store in Marshall on Saturday by Raphaela Mueller, who filmed her encounter as she confronted them, then shared it to Facebook.
In the clip, the woman held both of her middle fingers in the air, and said, “If you vote for [Joe] Biden, you’re going to be in Nazi Germany. That’s what it’s going to be like.”
After a fellow shopper told her, “You cannot be American and wear that mask,” the woman denied being a Nazi, and again referenced Biden. After she was asked to remove the mask with the swastika, and told the mask was "bull---," she walked away and said, “F— you.”
“I was speechless and shocked. I have heard of [things like this] happening in other places but I never thought I would see something like that,” Mueller, who said he was born and raised in Germany, told the Associated Press.
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Police were called to the store to tend to the situation, and served the couple with trespass notices per the store’s request, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
They were offered disposable face masks as an alternative, as Minnesota’s mask mandate went into effect on Saturday, but they refused and became “belligerent,” a Walmart spokesperson told the Associated Press.
The 59-year-old man and 64-year-old woman were warned that they faced arrest if they returned to the store, and they left without incident, the Star Tribune reported.
A spokesperson for the Marshall Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
The unidentified man and woman have been banned from all Walmart stores for at least one year, a Walmart spokesperson confirms to PEOPLE.
“The incident is unacceptable, and the two customers involved were trespassed," a statement reads. "We will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment inside our stores.”
For Mueller, seeing the swastika on display so boldly stirred up a mix of emotions, as her great-grandmother fought against the Nazis in Germany during World War II, she wrote on Facebook.
“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,” she wrote. “End of story.”
"The swastika is a trigger of trauma for so many people," she added to CNN. "It's been shown that trauma gets passed down in the DNA so I know I'm carrying what my great-grandmother went through. I didn't lose anybody in the Holocaust but I know that so many other people did. So just the thought of them having to see this, it's heartbreaking."
Walmart started requiring customers to wear masks on July 20.