FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Kelly Wagner had to sit in her car and take a deep breath after she saw the face mask full of swastikas being sold inside a Shell gas station in Fort Lauderdale.
“After the initial shock — horror — I asked the woman behind the counter, ‘Is Shell actually selling swastika face masks?’” Wagner told Local 10 News.
“And she outright said yes. Her response to me was, ’Whatever. We sell what it is that they give us to sell.’”
It’s unclear how many of the $5 masks — which also includes Nazi eagle insignia — were sold at that Shell located at 6201 Powerline Road, on the corner of Powerline and Cypress Creek Road.
The good news is we bought the last one there. After our report, it will be thrown out in the trash.
“I’m deeply offended by it,” said Rabbi Arnie Samlan of the Jewish Federation of Broward. “I find this deeply offensive.
“What we have in the United State is a lack of understanding and knowledge of what Natzism stood for and of the symbols used by the Nazis.”
After purchasing the mask off the shelf, Local 10 News confronted the Shell station’s manager Mohammad Hossin about it.
“I have no idea,” he said when asked if he knew what the symbols meant.
“You don’t know what a swastika is?” we asked.
“Trust me, I have no idea,” Hossin said.
Hossin said he bought the masks from a small vendor who showed up at the gas station with masks for sale. The masks were part of an assortment with others.
Hossin said he didn’t have a receipt or know who that vendor was.
While the manager says he didn’t know the mask and its symbols were offensive, the customer, Wagner, called it “an image of shame.”
“It’s shameful, hurtful,” she said. “There is no place for that in our society in this day and age. I’m sorry.”
And yet Rabbi Samlan calls this situation “shocking yet not surprising.”
“It is a symbol of hate,” he said. “It’s a symbol of racial superiority. When I see this symbol, I think of genocide.”
Shell Oil Company sent the following statement to Local 10 News:
“Shell Oil Products US does not condone hate symbols and is in contact with the licensee of this site to have this item removed. We support inclusivity of all patrons who choose Shell and take allegations of discrimination seriously.
“The Shell retail fuels business in the U.S. and its brand licensees primarily supply quality motor fuels to wholesalers who operate under the Shell brand and sell Shell-branded fuels. While the name on the sign reflects the brand of the motor fuel being sold on the premises, the convenience store and the day-to-day site operations are the legal responsibility of the wholesaler, site owner and/or operator.”