Man asked to wear face mask properly inside grocery store hurls homophobic slur at shopper

VIDEO: Confrontation over mask escalates at Edmonds store

EDMONDS, Wash. — Police said they were called to an Edmonds Way QFC for a “disturbance” Saturday morning involving a man who called another shopper a homophobic slur several times after being told he wasn’t wearing his face mask properly inside the store.

“I just asked him really politely can he please flip his mask up over his face and the guy called me four letter words,” said Scott Haddock, a gay civil rights lawyer and professor at Edmonds College. “Called me a word designed to hurt LGBTQ people, which I am one.”

Haddock said he immediately went to a store manager and was called the slur again in front of that QFC employee, who had told the man to pull his mask up. A second manager took Haddock aside and said he, not the shopper who used the slur, was causing the disruption.

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“That’s when the store manager said that’s just a word. I said, ‘It’s not just a word, it’s really hurtful hate speech. I didn’t appreciate it,’” said Haddock. “I didn’t agree with the manager and said I’ve been shopping here a really long time and I’ve never been treated like that before – you let the guy check out. And that’s when he said, ‘I’m going to call the police,’ and I assumed he was calling the police on that guy. He called the police on me.”

Edmonds police said QFC staff told the responding officers they wanted everyone involved removed from the store and that no one had been arrested or charged with a crime.

“I wasn’t interested in getting into an argument in the first place,” said Haddock, who made a report at the police department after he left the store. “This is not some political message I’m trying to reveal; I’m trying to make sure my community is safe. That’s all I cared about.”

QFC released this statement to KIRO 7: “At QFC, we train our associates to embrace diversity and inclusion and to show respect to every customer and one another. We ask our customers to respect these values as well when in our stores. Our store leaders are empowered to swiftly and respectfully address anyone who disregards these values.”

“I’ve just never experienced not one but two incidents of discrimination and literally I have been sick over it. I can’t sleep,” said Haddock. “I just never thought it would happen to me in my town.”