James Allen Jones Jr: California prisons officer assaults banker over mask mandate

Jones was arrested for racially abusing, attacking a Wells Fargo bank manager, who had urged him to wear a mask


                            James Allen Jones Jr: California prisons officer assaults banker over mask mandate
James Jones was identified based interviews with witnesses, surveillance camera footage, and photos (Image: SLO County Sheriff's Office)

GROVER BEACH, CALIFORNIA: Police have arrested a California prison guard who was accused of racially abusing and attacking a Wells Fargo bank manager, who had urged him to wear a mask in the building. James Allen Jones Jr was arrested last week following an investigation that lasted for 10 days, after the victim was attacked on September 3. Jones hails from Grover Beach, California.

Jones was arrested on suspicion of committing a hate crime, making criminal threats and battery with serious bodily injury by the Grover Beach Police Department after they obtained warrants to search his home. As per the bank manager's statement, Jones became angry after he was asked to wear a mask as local mask mandates demand, following which Jones hurled racist slurs at him and caused a row. Later that evening, Jones allegedly came to the parking lot in the central California city of Grover Beach that and initiated a fight with him. He fled the scene before the police could arrive.

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The investigation began after police found articles of Jones' clothes at the scene. He was identified based interviews with witnesses, surveillance camera footage, and photos. Police arrested Jones at the California Men's Colony on charges of felony hate crime, felony criminal threats and felony battery with serious bodily injury. Grover Beach Police Chief John Peters said: "Hateful speech, violent behavior, racism, bigotry and prejudice of all forms are not acceptable, and they have no place in our society.The city of Grover Beach is committed to fostering a collaborative, safe and culturally diverse environment for its residents, workers, business owners and tourists."

Police released Jones after he posted $50,000 bail, and the case will be presented next week. San Luis Obispo County prosecutors will also be asked to file charges next week. "Hate crime investigations are sensitive cases that are taken very seriously by the Police Department and the department takes caution in releasing information," the department said. "Our officers and investigators spent several days following up on many leads, conducting numerous interviews of witnesses, conducted multiple follow-up interviews with the victim, collected several articles of evidence and ultimately identified a suspect that was not known during the preliminary stages of the investigation. In this case, the distribution of preliminary information could have negatively impacted our investigative efforts and could have resulted in inaccurate witness statements, the loss of physical evidence and the suspect evading capture," it added.

In another recent incident which brought to light the prevailing racism that continues to emotionally affect Black people, two White men allegedly harassed a Black woman at a supermarket in Texas while she was working for Instacart. A video of the incident posted by TikToker @deekotapa0 last week has been viewed over 2,00,000 times. In the video of the incident, which reportedly occurred at a Kroger store in Dallas, the woman can be seen shouting at a White man wearing a blue T-shirt, presumably after the harassment has already taken place. 

These incidents are not very rare as there have been several instances of harassment and discrimination raised online since Covid-19 set in. People complaining about mask mandates in shops have been the most common refrain. In June this year, a video capturing a brawl in a Walmart went viral. The shocking video showed a Walmart security worker knocking a customer out stone-cold with one punch after the shopper apparently spat on him. In March, there was also the case of an NYC anti-masker who hurled the N-word at a bagel shop worker when asked to cover her face.