2 face hate crime charge after allegedly vandalizing Black Lives Matter mural in California

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The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday that it will be charging a man and woman caught on camera vandalizing a Black Lives Matter mural on July 4, CBS San Francisco reports. They will face multiple misdemeanors, including a hate crime charge.

The district attorney said Nichole Anderson, 42, and David Nelson, 53, both residents of Martinez, California, would be charged with three misdemeanor counts, including a hate crime, for their alleged actions over the holiday weekend when Anderson covered up a Black Lives Matter mural with black paint and Nelson directly aided in her alleged criminal conduct.

The incident was captured on video by witnesses and went viral.

The temporary Black Lives Matter mural in downtown Martinez was painted in front of the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse on Saturday, July 4, after a resident applied for a permit that was granted by the city.

More than 100 people — all wearing masks and almost all showing concern for social distancing — helped paint the words over a five-hour period.

After the mural was completed, Nelson and Anderson allegedly arrived at the scene with paint supplies. Using black paint and a large paint roller, Anderson started to paint over the yellow letters “B” and “L” in the word “Black.”

“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 press release. “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 defendants have been charged with violation of civil rights, vandalism under $400 and possession of tools to commit vandalism or graffiti. The alleged offenses are exempt from a specific bail amount due to the current county bail schedule in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If convicted, they could face up to a year in county jail.  

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