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Footage has emerged of an Illinois police officer escorting two young black men out of a Wood River Walmart and allegedly telling them they ‘cannot wear masks’.

Uploaded to YouTube on 18 March, the footage shows Jermon Best filming and narrating the incident to the camera while his friend Diangelo Jackson walked beside him.

Best alleged the police officer “followed” the two men into the store and that they “cannot wear masks” because “there’s a presidential order” and a “state order” against it:

We’re being asked to leave for being safe.

Around the time of the incident, there was reportedly no city ordinance against wearing face masks in supermarkets.

As Best and his companion made their way through the store, the police officer stopped and spoke to an onlooker.

Local police chief Brad Wells said he backed up the police officer in question and didn’t want to make a public statement about the incident:

There’s not much I can say. I backed the officer by what he tells me. Just like anything, there’s more to the story.

Wells also claims the police officer didn’t kick them out of the store or refuse them entry.

Although race isn't mentioned in the video, Best said both him and Jackson were "afraid" of how the situation might escalate because of the colour of their skin.

He said:

Being a young African-American male, it’s kind of hard when you interact with the police because you don’t know what state of mind they’re in. Just watching a lot of videos of police officers abusing their authority towards people was keeping me afraid, wondering why this cop was harassing us.

As of 3 April, Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker recommended the people of his state wear protective face masks while outside.

He said in a press conference at the time:

The doctors all agree that this virus can be spread through droplets like when you sneeze or cough, so blocking that by wearing a mask in public seems like a common sense way to do what’s right for everyone around you.

To date, Illinois is reporting 11,256 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 274 deaths.

Jermon Best declined to comment when approached by Indy100.

H/T: The Telegraph

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