2 People charged with hate crime after Black Lives Matter mural is vandalized

By Azi Paybarah

Two white people in California were charged Tuesday with a hate crime and other offenses after video appeared to show them vandalizing a Black Lives Matter mural on July 4, officials said.

The two were identified by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office as Nicole Claudia Anderson, 42, and David Richard Nelson, 53, both of Martinez, California.

Diana Becton, the district attorney, said, “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.”

The mural was painted on July 4 in front of a courthouse in Martinez, a site that the city selected when it issued a permit to the mural’s organizer. Within an hour of its completion, it was vandalized, said the organizer, Justin Gomez.

Video of the episode showed a woman using black paint and a roller brush to cover the letters “B” and “L.” She was joined by a man in a red cap and a red shirt that reads “Trump” and “Four More Years,” who can be heard saying: “We’re sick of this narrative” and “the narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism. It’s a lie. It’s a lie.”

The woman, using two expletives, tells onlookers to “keep this” in New York, adding, “This is not happening in my town.”

The mural has been restored and residents were “maintaining a presence” to prevent further damage, Gomez had said.

In addition to the hate-crime charges, the two people each face a charge of vandalism under $400 and possession of tools to commit vandalism or graffiti. All the charges are misdemeanors and no court date has been scheduled, according to a spokesman for the district attorney’s office.

If convicted, the couple face up to a year in jail, the district attorney’s office said.

Efforts to reach Anderson and Nelson at multiple phone numbers Tuesday night were not successful.

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