Life

2 People Who Vandalized A Black Lives Matter Mural Charged With A Hate Crime

City police chief calls damage "divisive and hurtful."

David Nelson and Nicole Anderson have been charged with a hate crime after they destroyed a “Black Lives Matter” mural in Martinez, California.

On July 4, community members came together to paint a “Black Lives Matter” mural as a peaceful protest against police brutality and killings of Black people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. They had a permit from the city, and their design featured yellow block letters spelling out the words “Black Lives Matter” on the road in front of the county courthouse in the East Bay city.

Shortly after the mural was completed, two white people arrived with buckets of black paint and paint rollers. In a video taken at the incident by witness Kerry Leidich, the pair is seen painting over the “Black Lives Matter” mural as bystanders film the desecration. When witnesses tried to stop them, they began scoffing at the Black Lives Matter movement.

In an expletive-laden outburst, Anderson told protesters to go to New York, saying the movement is not welcome in her town. Nelson calls the movement racist and says, “There is no oppression, there is no racism. It’s a leftist lie,” before blaming police-related deaths on people resisting arrest.

You can watch the full video of the couple defacing the “Black Lives Matter” mural below, but beware it may be triggering due to its content and graphic language:

Police were called to the scene, but they did not arrive until after the vandals had left. Using the video footage and license plate information, they reached out to the community to find the pair, with news outlets spreading the word on social media so the man and woman could be apprehended. The New York Times posted an image of the two perpetrators to Twitter, saying that police were seeking them.

Now that Nelson and Anderson have been identified as the pair in the video, and they are charged with three misdemeanors, including a hate crime.

“The community spent a considerable amount of time putting the mural together only to have it painted over in a hateful and senseless manner,” Martinez Police Chief Manjit Sappal said in a statement, according to CNN.”The City of Martinez values tolerance and the damage to the mural was divisive and hurtful.”

Martinez City Council member Noralea Gipner also expressed dismay over social media, saying, “What happen [sic] yesterday to deface that mural was hostility in an ugly form.”

Since the incident, the mural has been repainted. However, further destruction has since occurred, with one vandal arriving to paint “White Lives Matter” near the mural. In another incident, a man pointed a gun at someone guarding the mural and said “All Lives Matter.” He was shortly arrested, as shared by ABC7 News San Francisco reporter Anser Hassan.

However, the same reporter also noted that messages of positivity and support have also been chalked into the street following the recent incidents there.

The messages include “Black Lives Matter, today, tomorrow, everyday” and “Love for all.”