Video: ‘Whole Foods Karen’ yells at cop when he detains her for shoplifting while maskless

The incident has gone viral for its jarring display of white privilege.


Kahron Spearman


Posted on Jan 18, 2021   Updated on Jan 18, 2021, 2:04 pm CST

A viral video from Instagram and Twitter is being upheld as another viral instance of white privilege, as a maskless Karen freaks out on a cop outside of a Whole Foods store in Irvine, California.

The video was recently uploaded to Twitter and also to Instagram by popular Karen video poster @davenewworld_. 

The IG post has the caption: “Anti-maskers in California refuse to accept they broke the law. WARNING: It will kill your brain cells to watch the whole thing. This happened in Irvine, California so if anyone in Orange County recognizes these super-spreaders, avoid them at all costs.”

Three maskless Karens went into a Whole Foods off the 405 freeway in Irvine. The women had gone into the store without masks, and they were denied service, as per store policy. They decided to lay money on a counter and leave with the items, believing the act counted as an exchange in goods and services. But no employee reportedly scanned the items, and their workaround did not count as a sale.

The footage starts with them outside, with the Irvine police now involved and a Whole Foods employee attempting to give the cash they left back in exchange for items technically shoplifted out of the store.

“We literally gave you money, so it’s not shoplifting,” says the woman filming.

The apparent Trump-supporting maskless woman, wearing a hoodie with “1776 Forever Free” scripted on it, replies: “I comprehend that that’s what they want to do; that’s not with their lawful ability to deny me service.”

(The California mask mandate is fuzzy; it leans toward the person requesting service even if they aren’t wearing a mask. The store must attempt to create a safe environment for assistance, but ultimately, businesses are within their legal right to enforce mask-wearing in their establishments. In this case, as there was no agreed-upon transaction all of the onus falls on the anti-maskers.)

The cop says they are violating store policy, but the woman filming the encounter quips, “Policy doesn’t trump law; you should know that.”

However, the other officer asks the Whole Foods employee whether the store manager wants to press shoplifting charges if the product isn’t given back, to which the employee confirms they will. 

Before they go ahead with an arrest, the officer asks, once again, if they are going to give back the product. The Karens want it to be clear that they are being denied service if they are giving back the items. The Whole Foods employee reiterates that money being thrown down on the counter doesn’t constitute a transaction. 

The Karens leave the altercation without a box of microwavable Annie’s brand food, possibly white cheddar mac and cheese.

The real action takes place at the 1:50 mark of the Instagram video. The anti-masker in the hoodie declares the conversation over, but the cop nearest to her grabs her, forcing her to stay put. 

She yells, “You are unlawfully detaining me,” and repeatedly yells, “Put your hands off my body.” She adds: “It was unlawful to put your hands on me.”

He tells the maskless Karen that a crime is being investigated. However, the employee decided to let it go, likely because the situation was becoming too long and drawn out. But the anti-masker in the hoodie thinks it’s to avoid a Whole Foods lawsuit.

Widely pointed out on Twitter, the entire ordeal screams white privilege, which the maskless women knew they had, and the police weren’t willing to check. The other point is that the women filming the incident apparently posted this themselves as if the broad public would side with them.

@GinaMichelle32 wrote of the privilege of the maskless Karen: “It’s mindblowing. The audacity and privilege. The whole time I kept thinking any minute now that cop is going to put her in cuffs…disappointed.”

@nikki_1968 replied on the post: “When she started pointing with her whole hand I had an anxiety attack just thinking about my brothers and sisters that are tackled for ‘talking back.'”

“The utter fucking privilege of being able to talk to the police that, when you’ve broken the law and are being detained, without being smashed to the ground or murdered,” wrote @L_A_D_J.

Today’s top stories

‘Fill her up’: Bartender gives woman a glass of water when the man she’s with orders tequila shot
‘I don’t think my store has even sold one’: Whataburger employees take picture with first customer who bought a burger box
‘It was a template used by anyone in the company’: Travel agent’s ‘condescending’ out-of-office email reply sparks debate
Sign up to receive the Daily Dot’s Internet Insider newsletter for urgent news from the frontline of online.
Share this article
*First Published: Jan 18, 2021, 2:02 pm CST