An armed robber wearing a “Day of the Dead”-type mask, who held up a Wells Fargo Bank, may be charged with cultural appropriation, in addition to bank robbery.
According to a press release by the Santa Monica Police Department, on Sept. 10, a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt, gloves, and a skull mask similar to one that represents the Mexican holiday, entered a Wells Fargo location in the beachside Los Angeles suburb.
Holding a shotgun, the man demanded cash in amounts varying between $3,000 and $5,000, and ran, jumping an 8-foot fence outside. According to the Santa Monica Observer, a witness said the robber jumped into a red SUV waiting in an alley.
Eighty police officers from neighboring towns Beverly Hills and Inglewood and from Los Angles county, including the sheriff’s department, also responded to the scene, reported the Santa Monica Observer.
No one was injured in the robbery. Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) are searching for the suspect, who is also wanted for bank robbery and assault.
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A representative of the Santa Monica Police Department did not respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. “Use of a Day of the Dead Mask during a robbery can be a separate offense or an enhancement, under the California Penal Code,” a police spokesperson said in a press release, per the Observer. “In this case, the suspect is sought for violating the rights of indigenous peoples, and for bank robbery.”
A spokesperson from Wells Fargo tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “We are working with law enforcement and are unable to provide more details as this is an ongoing criminal investigation. Wells Fargo values and promotes diversity and inclusion in all aspects of business at all levels. We do not tolerate racism, cultural appropriation or discrimination of any kind.”
The Day of Dead, a holiday that lasts between October 31 and November 2, is a celebratory period for Mexican people to honor those who have passed on. Toy company Mattel is currently selling a “Barbie Día de Muertos” (retail price: $75) that some reportedly tweeted appropriated Mexican culture.
Story cited here.