CHARLOTTE, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - Police escorted a visibly angry man from the Walmart store in Mooresville after he refused a store manager’s request to wear a mask, according to a child’s video of the encounter that has drawn 414,700 Twitter views in less than a day.
“Because I’m white, she asked me to leave the property,” the man tells two police officers of the Black store manager. “It is because I’m white. What else is it?”
“Knock it off, or you’re going to jail,” a Mooresville police officer tells the man, pointing a finger at him, according to the video posted on the Fifty Shades of Whey Twitter account. The video originally appeared on the Facebook account of a Mooresville woman, according to a reply to The Charlotte Observer by Fifty Shades of Whey.
“In my county, my sheriff says that’s an unlawful mandate,” the man in the video says of requirements to wear a mask.
An officer tells the man he doesn’t work for Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell and that “this is their property,” referring to Walmart.
“It is because I’m white,” the man repeats, his voice growing louder. “It’s racist.”
Addressing the Walmart manager near the man, an officer says: “I need you to ask him in our presence to leave the store.”
“Please leave the store,” the manager tells the man, her back to the phone of the child recording the incident.
“Don’t worry, I’ve been filming him the entire time,” a boy is then heard saying on the video.
The incident occurred on Jan. 1, Casey Staheli, Walmart senior manager for national media relations, told the Observer in a statement on Tuesday.
“Our mask policy is intended to keep our customers and associates safe as we continue to serve communities across the country,” Staheli said. “We are pleased that the vast majority of the 150 million customers who visit us each week are wearing masks since we started requiring them this summer.
“We’re proud our associates displayed patience and professionalism as they navigated this challenging situation,” according to the statement.
Fifty Shades of Whey is the Twitter handle of a man who describes himself as an activist and freelance reporter from New York. With the video, the man posted this message:
“@Walmart gives this manager a raise for having to deal with this nonsense. She risked her life to protect customers and get this criminal out of the store. The stress & trauma of this ordeal deserves paid vacation days too.”
SHERIFFS REFUSE TO ENFORCE NC MASK ORDER
Campbell didn’t reply to a phone message from the Observer on Tuesday. The Mooresville woman who posted the video couldn’t be immediately reached on Facebook.
In June, at least 15 N.C. sheriff’s offices, including Campbell’s, said they wouldn’t enforce a then-new state order that requires people to wear face coverings in public areas, The Charlotte Observer reported at the time.
Sheriff’s offices across North Carolina said language of the new Executive Order prevents them from charging those who refuse to wear a mask in public.
Campbell posted a statement on the county sheriff’s Facebook page expressing similar sentiments at the time.
“I firmly believe that the order mandating face coverings is not only unconstitutional but unenforceable,” Campbell wrote. “We have no intention of enforcing this order nor can we enforce this order.”
LOWE’S CITES SAFETY CONCERNS
For months, many local and national retailers have posted signs at their entrances mandating customers to wear masks. Retailers, including Walmart, give masks to customers who show up without one.
Some retailers, including Mooresville-based Lowe’s, have cited safety concerns in not enforcing their mask mandates.
A Lowe’s shopper in California said another customer repeatedly spat in his face when he told the man to wear a mask, according to a lawsuit filed in July against the company that claims Lowe’s workers refused to intervene.