As the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen in parts of the United States, epidemiologists and public health experts have continued to remind people to practice personal safety measures, including wearing a mask.
Despite the warnings – as well as the numerous studies showing how face coverings are a relatively easy way to help prevent person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 – many have viscerally rejected the use of masks, even in privately-owned places like grocery stores where masks are mandatory.
Such is the case in bizarre video footage that has gone viral of a woman throwing a tantrum in an Oregon Costco and launching an impromptu sit-in protest at the retail warehouse after being told she must wear a protective mask.
The woman has since been dubbed “Costco Karen.” The name Karen has been adopted in recent months as a negative nickname for middle-aged white women who demand to speak to a store manager or throw histrionic fits in reaction to minor slights.
New ‘Costco Karen’ Sighting —throws 3-yr-old type tantrum— sits on the floor and won’t leave because “this is America..” —tries to lie about medical condition then changes her mind 🤦🏻♂️ pic.twitter.com/GLDmPDnGar
— ONLY iN LVNV ➐ (@OnlyInLVNV) July 2, 2020
In video footage that has quickly spread on Twitter, the woman is seen with her mask dangling from one ear in the Hillsboro, Oregon, store before a grocery worker politely asks her to wear the mask in the proper manner.
After the woman initially claims that she has a medical condition, she eventually admits that she was lying before stating: “I am a United States citizen!”
In the video, the worker tells the woman: “You just have to tell me that you have one [medical condition]. Well then, you have to wear it. You have to wear your mask in public. This is private property.”
The shopper then angrily replies: “No, I am not a member of Costco!”
The worker then asks if she would like that taken care of before reiterating that the shopper must put on her mask.
“I will not,” Costco Karen declared.
“Well then, come back another time,” the worker responded. “That’s our policy.”
2nd half of video – GM shows up pic.twitter.com/m5mtrEOmhs
— ONLY iN LVNV ➐ (@OnlyInLVNV) July 5, 2020
At that point, the shopper predictably demanded: “I want to speak to your boss.”
“He’s gonna require the same,” the employee patiently answered. “If you want to step outside here I’ll have him come meet you outside. You need to do that it’s our policy. We’re going to walk outside.”
Rather than simply honoring the simple request to exit the premises, the woman decided to throw a stunningly childish temper-tantrum by sitting smack-dab in the middle of the floor near the entrance, obstructing customers from entering and exiting the store.
Ever the patient Costco crew member, the employee asked: “Can I get you a chair outside? There’s a place to sit. Want me to help you up?”
The angry woman then stood up and shuffled aside by a few feet before resuming her protest.
Once the manager arrived, the irritated shopper let him have it with her grievances, insisting: “I’m not leaving. Do you want to carry me? I am an American. I have constitutional rights!”
Throughout the past year, “Karens gone wild” has become a veritable genre of social media videos – often with the subjects of the videos throwing tremendous fits over minor inconveniences or, in darker examples, creating disturbances with implicitly racist overtones.
In another recent viral video from North Hollywood, California, a woman similarly dubbed Karen can be seen lashing out at workers and team members at a Trader Joe’s store while violently taking out her anger on store property. She even goes so far as to scream at employees: “You f***ing b****! Democratic pigs! All of you!”
Opening day at Trader Joe’s in North Hollywood, Ca.
Karen is mad she was mask shamed… pic.twitter.com/pF3Zgj3w2E
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) June 27, 2020
Online audiences have reacted with bemusement to the growing list of Karen videos that have grown in number almost every day throughout the year and appear to show the sense of entitlement and resentment among the subjects of these videos.
Notable examples include Amy Cooper, who was dubbed “Central Park Karen” after telling that she was being assaulted by a non-violent Black bird watcher. On Monday, she was given misdemeanor charges of filing a false report with the NYPD.
Another breathtaking example from this past weekend is that of Melissa Rein Lively, a conspiracy theorist in Scottsdale, Arizona, who has been dubbed “Target Karen” and “Qanon Karen” after she attacked a display of face coverings in a Target store while cursing wildly at employees, customers, and facial masks. Lively streamed the disturbance over Instagram.
In a live-stream video filmed around that time, a disheveled-appearing Lively could be seen engaging in an unhinged racist rant and repeatedly using the n-word.
In video live-streamed shortly afterwards, the same woman can be seen engaging in a political rant about Donald Trump and “deep state politicians” toward officers who were called to her home in response to a separate disturbance. As officers calmly detained her – and even told her “I’m sorry” – she accused the officers of ethnic bias, telling the officers: “You’re doing it to me because I’m Jewish.”
Police came to her house and she was arrested on IG Live saying she is a spokesperson for QAnon & the White House and wanted the police to “call Donald Trump and ask him” because she can’t share any “classified information.”
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) July 5, 2020