If customers see another customer not wearing a surgical mask in the grocery store, should they all corral into an angry mob while pelting the non-mask wearer with a torrent of obscenities until they cooperate? A debate over that very question has erupted online in response to a viral video out of Staten Island, New York, showing customers heckle and berate a total stranger for not wearing a face covering.
The video, posted on Sunday, has since garnered over 2 million views and divided people into two camps: people who felt the heckling went too far and people who believed it was justified. Take a look:
— McAuley (@McauleyHolmes) May 25, 2020
McAuley Holmes, who posted the initial video after seeing it on Reddit, told Heavy that he had “mixed feelings” about how customers reacted, believing that the store employees should have been the ones to handle the situation.
“From what I can see in the video it seems there aren’t employees of the store involved in removing the shopper,” Holmes told Heavy. “Obviously private businesses have the right to refuse service to non-mask wearers, but a group of shoppers is different. Masks are important in stopping the spread and wearing one is a sign of respect to others. It’s understandable that people would be so serious about community enforcement in a place like Staten Island that has been hit so hard by COVID.”
Actor Jeffrey Wright of “Westworld” felt the customers were acting appropriately considering that Staten Island was hit the hardest by COVID-19 with up to 800 dead out of nearly half a million people, noting that people there are predominantly conservative.
“Staten Island is NYC’s most conservative borough. 56.05% voted for Trump in 2016. Population of 476,143 people and almost 800 confirmed COVID dead to this point,” he tweeted. “Extrapolated over the U.S. population that’s about 550,000 dead. So nah, they ain’t havin it.”
Another user agreed: “People outside of the metro area don’t realize that Staten Island is a GOP stronghold and the majority voted for Trump. Pointing this out because their anger about her not wearing a mask is about the health of shoppers & employees in a highly infected area, not political views.”
Other users felt the customers took it way too far.
“Wow. So bullying is the right answer?! Maybe the store should not allow people to go in?! Maybe should of asked if she has or mask or needed one, but calling someone a pig?? Love the guy screaming at her pulls his mask down to do it!!” said one user.
“No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no entry. Why’d the store allow them in without masks? You can’t get into my grocery store in Brooklyn without a mask; if you don’t have one they’ll offer one to you (and gloves). My store also “meters” entrants, so it doesn’t get too crowded,” said another.
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