LOS ANGELES: Authorities in California have launched a probe after a man was spotted at a grocery store using a Ku Klux Klan hood as a face covering against COVID-19 infection.
"I am stunned, stunned because it's always sad when somebody, regardless of what the reasoning is, resorts to putting any kind of symbol out there that depicts some kind of hatred," John Minto, the mayor of the town of Santee, near San Diego, told the local ABC station.
Images of the man taken by a fellow shopper at a Vons grocery store have sparked outrage and the San Diego Sheriff's Department said it had launched a probe into the incident that took place Saturday.
"Deputies were not called to the scene at the time the incident took place," the department said in a statement.
"Detectives from the Sheriff's Department are looking into the matter and will pursue any appropriate criminal charges," the statement added.
Employees at the store, located about 29km northeast of San Diego, told the man to remove the hood and he did so at the checkout counter.
Tammy Gillies, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, condemned the incident in a message on Twitter saying: "San Diego is #NoPlaceForHate."
Tiam Tellez, who shared photos that he took of the shopper, described the incident as "disgusting" in a Facebook post.
"So troublesome in so many ways this is still happening in Santee at Vons," he wrote.
The unidentified man wore the offensive hood following an order that went into effect last week requiring everyone in San Diego County to wear a face covering while out in public.
In a statement, Minto insisted that "this particular individual's actions are not representative of us as a people and a wonderful city".