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Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Couple are charged with hate crimes for painting over a city-sanctioned Black Lives Matter mural in California with black paint

A Trump-supporting California couple has been charged with hate crimes after they painted over a sanctioned Black Lives Matter mural with black paint. 
Nicole Anderson, 42, and David Nelson, 53, were charged by the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office with three misdemeanor counts, including a hate crime. 
They were captured on video on July 4 defacing a Black Lives Matter mural in Martinez by painting over it with black paint.   
Anderson is seen in the footage using a large paint roller to paint over the letters 'B' and 'L' in the word Black, which had been painted yellow.   
According to the district attorney's office, a Martinez resident applied for a permit to paint the temporary mural in front of the city's Wakefield Taylor Courthouse on July 1. The permit was approved by Martinez city officials and the painting took place on July 4.   
Nelson and Anderson arrived at the scene of the mural after it was completed with paint supplies. Video of them has been shared widely on social media. 
David Nelson
Nicole Anderson
Nicole Anderson (right), 42, and David Nelson (left), 53, were charged by the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office with three misdemeanor counts, including a hate crime
The pair were captured on video on July 4 defacing a Black Lives Matter mural in Martinez by painting over it with black paint
The pair were captured on video on July 4 defacing a Black Lives Matter mural in Martinez by painting over it with black paint
Trump supporters vandalize Black Lives Matter mural
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'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. 
'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.'
Both Nelson and Anderson are charged with violation of civil rights, vandalism under $400 and possession of tools to commit vandalism or graffiti. 
If convicted, both defendants face up to a year in county jail. The alleged offenses are exempt from a specific bail amount due to the current county bail schedule in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In footage from witnesses, Nelson was seen wearing Trump-supporting attire as he argued with witnesses. 
Footage shows the woman pouring a can of black paint over part of the mural and using a paint roller to cover the bright yellow letters.
Anderson is seen painting over the yellow letters with black paint
Anderson is seen painting over the yellow letters with black paint 
Nelson (pictured) argued with witnesses that  Black Lives Matter is 'racism' and 'no one' wants in it the city
Nelson (pictured) argued with witnesses that  Black Lives Matter is 'racism' and 'no one' wants in it the city 
When one witness asks the woman 'what's wrong with you,' her male companion replies 'we're sick of the narrative, that's what is wrong'.
'The narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism, it's a lie,' the man adds. 
The man, who was recording the incident, then points to the Black Lives Matter sign and calls it 'racism'.
An argument is sparked between the man and onlookers while the woman continues to damage the mural.
'There is no oppression. There is no racism,' the man says. 'It's a leftist lie...from the media.'
The woman then becomes enraged at the witnesses and exclaims 'keep that s****' in f****** New York! It's not happening in my town!'  
The woman appeared to referencing to a number of Black Lives Matter murals approved across all five boroughs of New York City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that one would be painted directly in front of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue - a move that angered the president - but it was delayed last week for unspecified reasons. 
Several such murals have painted on roadways across the country to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement after the killing of George Floyd and other black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.  
The man said the couple defaced the mural because they were 'tired of the narrative...', referring to police brutality and racism
The man said the couple defaced the mural because they were 'tired of the narrative...', referring to police brutality and racism 
Authorities said the couple fled the scene before police officers arrived
Authorities said the couple fled the scene before police officers arrived 
Community members returned to the Martinez courthouse on Sunday to repair the damaged Black Lives Matter mural
Community members returned to the Martinez courthouse on Sunday to repair the damaged Black Lives Matter mural
At one point, the man chimes in that 'no one wants Black Lives Matter here' and 'all lives matter.'
The Martinez Police Department said that it dispatched to the Black Lives Matter mural after people reported the incident, but the couple had already fled the area. 
Community members on Sunday returned to the mural and re-painted it.  
'The community spent a considerable amount of time putting the mural together only to have it painted over in a hateful and senseless manner,' the department said. 
'The City of Martinez values tolerance and the damage to the mural was divisive and hurtful. Please help us identify those that are responsible for this crime, so they can be held accountable for their actions.'
More than 100 people - all wearing face coverings and adhering to social distancing - gathered to paint the phrase on Saturday for five hours. 
The 'public art project,' was organized by a local group named Martizians for Black Lives, which got permission for the mural from the Martinez Recreation Department.
Justin Gomez, a top organizer for Martizians for Black Lives, said the project was inspired after a number of anti-Black Lives Matter fliers were discovered in the city. 
The fliers reportedly prompted a community-wide discussion and reflection of how residents should be treated.
'People have now seen racism in their community; now we have to confront it,' said Gomez.
He added that it was not mistake that the mural was placed in front of the Martinez courthouse.
The legal system 'gateway to mass incarceration' that has disproportionately affected Black Americans and minorities, as well as perpetuated institutional racism.
'The system is made up of millions of little systems. We have to look locally first,' said Gomez.
The first Black Lives Matter mural was painted in Washington, DC, near the White House last month. Murals for the movement soon started popping up in major cities like New York City where multiple murals have been painted in Manhattan and Brooklyn (pictured)
The first Black Lives Matter mural was painted in Washington, DC, near the White House last month. Murals for the movement soon started popping up in major cities like New York City where multiple murals have been painted in Manhattan and Brooklyn (pictured)  
A large-scale Breonna Taylor mural was painted at Chambers Park in Annapolis, Maryland, on Sunday. The mural was organized by Future History Now in partnership with Banneker-Douglass Museum and The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture
A large-scale Breonna Taylor mural was painted at Chambers Park in Annapolis, Maryland, on Sunday. The mural was organized by Future History Now in partnership with Banneker-Douglass Museum and The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture
The painting honors Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by members of the Louisville Metro Police Department in March 2020
The painting honors Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by members of the Louisville Metro Police Department in March 2020
One of the mural artists, Tatiana Ray, told ABC 7 that the couple's response to the artwork was indicative of white supremacy permeating through American culture.
'I think that this is an indication of how much power white supremacy actually has,' she said.
'The fact that even having something on the street for one hour, they couldn't even tolerate that. You know, it was such a threat to have anybody else's concerns represented by the city and represented by the community.'
Nationwide protests against white supremacy, racial injustice and police brutality have gripped the United States since George Floyd's death on Memorial Day.
The first Black Lives Matter mural was painted in Washington, DC, near the White House last month. 
Murals for the movement soon started popping up in major cities like New York City where multiple murals have been painted in Manhattan and Brooklyn. 
In Maryland, artists created a Breonna Taylor mural to call for justice for the 26-year-old EMT who was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers on March 13. 
As hundreds of thousands of Americans continue to call for action, President Donald Trump has railed against Black Lives Matter protesters and unequivocally sided with law enforcement.    
He was condemned over his heavy-handed military response to often peaceful protests, appearing to incite further divide between civilians using prejudice rhetoric and for using the widely contested phrase 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts'.
His apparent distaste for Black Lives Matter protesters seeped into his Fourth of July address at the White House, where he compared them to Nazis and terrorists.
'American heroes defeated the Nazis, dethroned the fascists toppled the communists, saved American values, upheld American principles, and chased down terrorists to the very ends of the earth,' he said. 

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