MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Marshall is the biggest town in southwestern Minnesota — a town that’s getting international attention after a scene unfolded in a local Walmart Saturday morning.
A couple who was checking out were seen wearing face coverings with large swastikas on them. A bystander captured it on video and someone shouted at the couple, “You cannot be American and wear a mask like that, we literally had a war about this.”
The bystanders who took the video questioned the couple who defended their choice of mask. The woman in the mask said, “It’s gonna be what happens if Biden gets elected.”
The mayor says he’s been bombarded with emails from near and far.
“The incident that played out on Saturday was just a small snapshot and is not reflective of the entire picture of Marshall,” Mayor Bob Byrnes said in a statement Monday.
He says the couple is not part of any hate group and will not face legal trouble, but they have been banned by Walmart for a year.
“We were surprised it unfolded at all anywhere in Minnesota. It’s unfortunate that it happened in our community,” Byrnes said.
And what happened has captured the attention of people across the world.
“It was a jarring sight to see someone wearing a swastika on their mask in Marshall,” Hunegs said.
Steve Hunegs is president of the local Jewish Community Relations Council. His group takes Minnesotans every year to the holocaust museum to build perspective and respect.
He gave his perspective on the Marshall video.
“People are trying to express themselves in a way that makes their point but we say it’s wrong, it’s inappropriate, insults the memories of WWII veterans, insults the memories of holocaust victims,” Hunegs said.
He believes it’s important not to condemn the couple, but to enlighten them.
“We have to stop demonizing people,” Hunegs said. “It’s dangerous for democracy to see people with opposing viewpoints as the devil.”
He says good can come from this because “we have an opportunity to educate.”
Steve said he would love the chance to connect with the couple. He believes they could learn from each other.