Two Martinez residents face hate crime and vandalism charges as suspects in Saturday’s defacing of a “Black Lives Matter” mural on a downtown Martinez street — a video of which has put Martinez in the national spotlight.
The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office said that Nicole Claudia Anderson, 42, and David Richard Nelson, 53, were each charged Tuesday with three misdemeanors — violation of civil rights, vandalism and possession of tools to commit vandalism or graffiti.
In videos that have gone viral, Anderson is seen taking a roller and black paint to the Black Lives Matter mural on Court Street that had been completed only about an hour earlier on Saturday.
Anderson can be seen saying such a mural “is not happening in my town.” Nelson was standing near Anderson, making a video of her painting over the yellow mural letters. Wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, Anderson was himself captured on video saying:
“Racism is a leftist lie.”
The pair were shown walking back to their pickup truck parked nearby, with a clearly visible license plate number and the word “Nicole” printed on the back gate.
District attorney’s office spokesman Scott Alonso was not certain about the nature of the relationship between Anderson and Nelson.
In a statement, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton on Tuesday said the root and byproduct of systemic racism in our country must be addressed.
“The Black Lives Matter movement is an important civil rights cause that deserves all of our attention.”
“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.”
Anderson and Nelson have not been arrested, Alonso said. Both will be sent notices to appear in Contra Costa County Superior Court on a date that should be set sometime Wednesday, he said.
The city-permitted Black Lives Matter mural was painted on Saturday with about 100 people helping with the painting over the course of several hours. It was painted six days after two “white power” fliers were found on a residential street near downtown.
On Sunday night, a 30-year-old Martinez man was arrested for allegedly brandishing a loaded revolver during an argument with a defender of the mural. And on Tuesday, someone painted the words “White Lives Matter” across Howe Road in Martinez, part of which was soon covered up with black paint.