'I was speechless': Woman who witnessed couple wearing Nazi face masks recounts incident at Walmart
MARSHALL, Minn. (FOX 9) - A simple trip to the store for Raphaela Mueller and Ben Ruesch turned into a strange moment on Saturday when they noticed a couple wearing Nazi flag face masks at the Marshall, Minnesota Walmart.
"We went to Walmart to get cat toys and sparkling water," explained Raphaela Mueller.
The moment captured by Mueller has since spread across the internet with many others sharing the same shock she felt when she saw the couple.
"I was speechless, I was shocked," explained Mueller. "It was just this sense of disbelief, like what did I just see?"
They went to the customer service desk to tell a manager about what they saw and noticed the couple started checking out nearby.
"I eventually took a picture of the woman and she noticed I was taking her picture," said Mueller.
Mueller said that’s when she started recording.
The woman in the video responds saying she’s wearing the Nazi symbol as a sign of protest against socialism in America. The symbol itself hits Mueller personally. She's in Marshall this summer as part of an internship to become a pastor but was born and raised in Germany where her great grandmother fought against the Nazi party.
"Something like that is literally something my great grandmother fought against and I couldn’t let it stand like that," Mueller explained.
"Certainly, the video does not reflect what Marshall is about," said Mayor Bob Byrnes. "It doesn’t reflect what our people our community, our region, or even our state. That said, we do respect individual’s rights to express their views even if they are disagreeable. Everyone has that right and that’s really what they did yesterday. The problem was when it became a disturbance and that’s when the individuals needed to be removed from the store at the store’s request."
Mueller and Ruesch are hoping that by the video going viral, others will learn more about the history and hurt behind the symbol.
Walmart corporate did respond to this incident in a statement: "What happened today at our store in Marshall, MN is unacceptable. We strive to provide a safe and comfortable shopping environment for all our customers and will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment in any aspect of our business. We are asking everyone to wear face coverings when they enter our stores for their safety and the safety of others and it’s unfortunate that some individuals have taken this pandemic as an opportunity to create a distressing situation for customers and associates in our store."
Marshall police tell us the couple with the masks were issued trespass notices. They are banned from visiting any Walmart for at least a year.