State Watch

Two people who painted over California Black Lives Matter mural charged with hate crime

Two people who painted over a street mural reading "Black Lives Matter" in California have been charged with a hate crime.

"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 about the charges released Tuesday.

"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," she continued. "We must continue to elevate discussions and actually listen to one another in an effort to heal our community and country."

Nicole Anderson and David Nelson have been charged with three misdemeanors, including violations of civil rights. If convicted, the two could face up to a year in county jail.

The two are charged with partially painting over the mural in Martinez, Calif., on July 4. The act was caught on video and shared widely on social media, the district attorney's office noted.

In the footage, the woman identified as Anderson is wearing a shirt with an American flag designed in the shape of a heart and using a roller to paint black over the yellow letters "B" and "L" in the mural. The man, identified as Nelson, is wearing a "Four More Years" shirt and recording people who stop to watch.

"The only reason why people claim police brutality? People are resisting arrest," he says, arguing with people passing. "All lives do matter." 

The mural had just been completed on July 4, according to the district attorney's statement. A city resident applied for a permit to paint the temporarily mural, which is in front of the courthouse in downtown Martinez.

"Black Lives Matter" murals have been painted in multiple cities - including Washington, D.C., and New York City - over the last month, amid protests over police-involved deaths first prompted by the Memorial Day death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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