MARTINEZ, Calif — A white man and a white woman have been charged in California after video appeared to show them vandalizing a Black Lives Matter mural, just an hour after it was finished.
The pair, 42-year-old Nicole Anderson and 53-year-old David Nelson, were identified by the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office, who said the two were caught on camera painting over the yellow mural in front of the Martinez city courthouse on July 4.
"The community spent a considerable amount of time putting the mural together only to have it painted over in a hateful and senseless manner,” Chief Manjit Sappal of the Martinez Police Department said in a statement. “The city of Martinez values tolerance, and the damage to the mural was divisive and hurtful.”
In the video, Anderson was seen wearing flip-flops and a patriotic shirt, while her companion, Nelson, wore a red “Four More Years” shirt and red “Make America Great Again” hat from President Donald Trump’s campaign.
“We’re sick of this narrative, that’s what’s wrong,” Nelson said. “The narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism. It’s a lie.”
Eventually, onlookers snatched the paint can away from the female, who promised to return with more.
Warning: The following video contains graphic language and may be disturbing to some audiences.
The Martinez Police Department said both have been charged with violation of civil rights, vandalism, and possession of tools to commit vandalism of graffiti. If they're convicted, they could face up to a year in the county jail.
“We must address the root and byproduct of systemic racism in our country. The Black Lives Matter movement is an important civil rights cause that deserves all of our attention,” stated Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton. “The mural completed last weekend was a peaceful and powerful way to communicate the importance of Black lives in Contra Costa County and the country. We must continue to elevate discussions and actually listen to one another in an effort to heal our community and country.”
The local resident who received permission from the city to paint the mural, Justin Gomez, told the New York Times and the Washington Post that he was told about the mural being vandalized about 30 minutes after he finished painting it. He added that the community came together to repair the damage within an hour on Saturday.
“I’m not so surprised that it happened. I’m surprised at how bold they chose to be," Gomez told the New York Times.