California Man Who Wore KKK Hood as Face Mask Won’t Face Charges

A man in San Diego County shocked fellow supermarket shoppers when he wore a KKK hood to a Vons store as a face covering — a move he later admitted was “stupid.” Some patrons took photos of the man, who instead of wearing a common face mask chose to wear a symbol of the racist hate group. The incident drew outrage from local officials and civil rights groups, but the San Diego County sheriff’s department announced on Monday they have no grounds to charge the man.

During questioning, the unnamed suspect “expressed frustration with the coronavirus and having people tell him what he can and cannot do,” according to a statement from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department sent to CBS News.

“He said that wearing the hood was not intended to be a racial statement,” the statement says. “In summary, he said, ‘It was a mask, and it was stupid.'”

The Sheriff’s Department also interviewed witnesses and reviewed video evidence from the store, ultimately determining there was insufficient evidence to charge the man with any crime, the department said in the statement.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has said that ‘[s]peech 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,'” the department says in the statement.

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SOURCE: CBS News, Caitlin O’Kane