Images of Salvation Army bell ringers from Hell’s Angels wearing controversial patches on their jackets outside a Walmart in Indiana sparked social media outrage.
The photos, which showed several Salvation Army bell ringers outside a Walmart in Valparaiso, were posted to Facebook on Friday and were shared with The Times of Northwest Indiana. One bell ringer could be seen wearing a patch with the Confederate flag and another patch that read “Aryan.”
A representative from the Hell’s Angels Northwest Indiana Region Motorcycle Club confirmed to The Times of Northwest Indiana that the men in the photos were members of the club. The representative told the news outlet that some members chose to wear “heritage-based” patches, and that the club accepts “motorcyclists from all walks of life.”
A worker collects shopping carts outside Walmart store on January 11, in Chicago, Illinois. Walmart said it asked volunteers ringing bells for The Salvation Army to leave after receiving complaints of the volunteers wearing “Aryan” patches on their jackets. Scott Olson/Getty Images
Lieutenant Christopher Nicolai of the Salvation Army of Porter County told The Times of Northwest Indiana that the club was “embarrassed” by the patches and that the club would no longer be able to volunteer for the charity organization.
“Our commitment to nondiscrimination includes a dress code for bell ringers, requiring that they wear red Salvation Army aprons, and making it clear that no “symbol, marking or lettering that is viewed as discrimination” may be worn,” Nicolai said in a statement to the publication. “Clearly, the bell ringers in question did not comply with this dress code. They will not be allowed to volunteer in the future. We are embarrassed that we were unable to prevent this incident, and apologize to all who were offended, as were we.”
In a statement to Newsweek, Walmart said that as soon as the patches were brought to the company’s attention, it asked the ringers to leave. The company directed all other questions to the Salvation Army.
“We made the Salvation Army aware and they apologized,” the statement read. “The Salvation Army is responsible for screening its volunteers stationed outside our stores. We’ve had a long history of supporting the Salvation Army and regret this isolated incident.”
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