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Two Black men say they were racially profiled by a white police officer while wearing surgical masks at a Walmart in Wood River, Illinois.
A YouTube video that posted March 18 and has more than 30,000 views, shows the two males wearing masks and being followed by an officer as they exit the store, The Telegraph reports.
Jermon Best, who made the video and uploaded it under the name Halo Dale, said he shared the clip because he wanted to show the racial profiling still happening amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“He followed us from outside and said that it is was a presidential order and a state order,” Best said in the clip. “We’re being asked to leave for being safe.”
He added, “I don’t know if he was having a bad day. I’ve never said that the guy was racist. All I’m saying is that his actions were suspect.”
According to Wood River city ordinance, people are prohibited from wearing masks in businesses.
In the video, Best tells other customers, “Coronavirus is real. This police officer just put us out for wearing masks and trying to stay safe!”
Best and the man in the video, Diangelo Jackson, said they felt like “prey” being stalked by the officer.
Meanwhile, Wood River Police Chief Brad Wells said the clip doesn’t show the entire interaction, claiming the incident took place before folks made it a point to wear surgical masks in public during the COVID-19 health crisis.
“There’s not much I can say,” said Wells. “I backed the officer by what he tells me. Just like anything, there’s more to the story.”
Wells admits the officer “was mistaken when it came to the store’s policy prohibiting masks” and it was “the one error” made in the incident. He said Best and Jackson were quick to accuse the officer of being racist for targeting them.
“They immediately went into the race issue,” said Wells. “He (the officer) didn’t kick them out of the store or refuse entry.”
Best said they decided to leave the store rather than show the officer identification.
“Being a young African-American male, it’s kind of hard when you interact with the police because you don’t know what state of mind they’re in,” said Best.
Jackson added “just watching a lot of videos of police officers abusing their authority towards people was keeping me afraid, wondering why this cop was harassing us.
“I was just more worried about him doing something he’s not supposed to do,” he said.
Scroll up and watch the clip above.
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