California man, woman who vandalized Black Lives Matter street mural and dismissed racism face hate crime charges

Jordan Culver, USA TODAY
·3 min read

A white man and woman who were captured on video vandalizing a Black Lives Matter street mural in California face hate crime charges, officials announced Tuesday.

The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday released a statement saying Nicole Anderson, 42, and David Nelson, 53, were charged with "three misdemeanor counts, including a hate crime." The two tried to paint over a downtown mural, which had been permitted by the city, and traded insults with onlookers.

“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,” Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton said in a statement.

The incident took place in Martinez in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. According to the district attorney's office, a Martinez resident applied for and received a city permit to paint the mural in front of a downtown courthouse. "Black Lives Matter" was painted on the street in bright yellow on July 4.

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After the painting was done, Anderson began painting over the mural in black paint while Nelson spoke with a crowd of onlookers, video of the incident shows. Anderson can be seen using a roller to paint over part of the mural while the man says, "We're sick of this narrative."

In video, Nelson can also be heard saying, "There is no oppression. There is no racism. It's a leftist lie."

By the time law enforcement arrived, the two were gone, Martinez police said Sunday.

Anderson and Nelson each face two vandalism charges and a charge of "violation of civil rights," according to the district attorney's office. The two face a year in county jail if convicted.

Both will be sent a notice to appear before a superior court judge, a process that could take a few weeks due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, said Scott Alonso, spokesman for the district attorney's office. No court date had been set for either person as of Tuesday evening, he said.

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“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," Becton said in a statement. "We must continue to elevate discussions and actually listen to one another in an effort to heal our community and country.”

Black Lives Matter murals have been painted nationwide during the weeks of protests against racial inequality and police brutality. Places like New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. have streets with "Black Lives Matter" painted on them.

President Donald Trump last week called a proposed mural — to be painted in front of Trump Tower — a "symbol of hate."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California man, woman charged with hate crime for mural vandalism