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Two charged with hate crimes for defacing California Black Lives Matter mural

2020-07-11

Two white California residents were charged with a hate crime after they were filmed painting over a Black Lives Matter sign on the Fourth of July.

Nicole Anderson, 42, and David Nelson, 53, were each charged with three misdemeanor counts, including a hate crime, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

The video shows a woman, later identified as Anderson, painting over the yellow lettering with black paint while the man behind the camera, Nelson, says “the narrative is wrong.”

“The narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism, it’s a lie,” Nelson says.

The Martinez Police Department had given community members permission to paint the mural on Saturday. Police Chief Manjit Sappal accused the couple of destroying the message “in a hateful and senseless manner.”

“The City of Martinez values tolerance and the damage to the mural was divisive and hurtful,” he said in a statement.

Anderson and Nelson were both charged with violation of civil rights, vandalism and possession of tools to commit vandalism or graffiti.

“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 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.”