Only in California.
Only in our upside-down America of 2019.
Stan Greene reports for the Santa Monica Observer that at 9:45 am yesterday, Sept. 18, 2019, a man wearing a Day of the Dead mask held up the Wells Fargo Bank on 9th St. and Montana Ave. in Santa Monica, California. Brandishing a shotgun, the suspect demanded money from the tellers, who were behind bulletproof window.
Witnesses described the suspect as a 6’4″ black male weighing 220 pounds, carrying a shotgun, and wearing a skeleton mask and blue shoe covers. A witness saw the masked bandit leave the bank with $3000 to $5000, scale an 8-ft. cinderblock wall, pass the Valet parking attendant and into a red SUV waiting in the alley.
Note: The Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated annually from October 31 to November 2 throughout Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage elsewhere, to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. In 2008, the Mexican holiday was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Santa Monica Police Department said in a press release that the bank robber is wanted on not just charges of bank robbery and assault, but also for “cultural appropriation”:
“It is important to recognize the inherent dignity of indigenous cultures. Use of a Day of the Dead Mask during a robbery can be a separate offense or an enhancement, under the California Penal Code. In this case, the suspect is sought for violating the rights of indigenous peoples, and for bank robbery.”
If sentenced, the bank robber could be made to attend training classes in cultural sensitivity and social justice, in addition to 20 years for bank robbery.
Wells Fargo Bank doubled its reward when they found out the charges against the robber include “cultural appropriation”. The bank said in a statement: “Wells Fargo Bank does not tolerate racism, cultural appropriation or discrimination of any kind.”
On Twitter, the bank robber is also accused of “cultural appropriation”. Below is a sample of the outraged tweets:
“Is this a bad joke or what? Día de los Muertos is one of our most sacred traditions in Mexico dating back to prehispanic days. STOP wearing Day of the Dead Masks now!”
“Cultural Appropriation Bank Robber is truly criminal. No! Day of the dead is a religious celebration for the indigenous ppl of Mexico. It is being used by white bank robbers to make $. No one believes a 6’4″ white dude celebrates Day of the dead. Cultural appropriation at its worst!”
Mattel is also being accused of “cultural appropriation” for releasing a limited-edition “Day of the Dead” Barbie in celebration of the Mexican holiday on November 2. The toy features “sugar skull” face paint, a headdress and a black, floral, Mexican dress and is available to buy at Walmart, Target and Amazon.com for $75.
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