California couple charged with hate crime for allegedly vandalizing Black Lives Matter mural

SteveChristensen/iStockBy ELLA TORRES, ABC News

(CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif.) — A white California couple has been charged with a hate crime after they were seen on video defacing a Black Lives Matter mural, according to a statement from the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office.

Two people, identified by the district attorney as Nicole Anderson, 42, and David Nelson, 53, were seen on July 4 painting over the B and L in the word “Black,” which had been painted in yellow, with black paint.

In the video, the man identified as Nelson can be heard saying, “There is no racism. It’s a leftist lie,” and, “No one wants Black Lives Matter here.”

When a woman could be heard asking, “What’s wrong with you?” the man replied, “We’re sick of this narrative, that’s what’s wrong. The narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism. It’s a lie.”

He was wearing Trump 2020 garb and yelled “Make America Great Again.”

Anderson was the one seen painting over the letters, while Nelson stood alongside her and at one point fetched another can of paint from a car.

Calls to Anderson and Nelson seeking comment were not immediately returned. It’s unclear whether they’ve obtained legal representation.

The mural, in downtown Martinez in front of the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse, was approved through a permit on July 1, according to the district attorney’s statement issued Tuesday. It was completed on July 4.

Other murals like it have been seen in cities across the U.S. in the wake of protests against police brutality.

The Martinez police said in a statement Sunday that the couple appeared to have come to the mural “with cans of paint and a roller with the specific purpose of vandalizing over the mural.”

“The community spent a considerable amount of time putting the mural together only to have it painted over in a hateful and senseless manner,” police said.

Police included a link to the video with the statement in the hopes of identifying the suspects, who, three days later, were charged.

In addition to the hate crime, Anderson and Nelson also face charges of vandalism and possession of tools to commit vandalism or graffiti.

If convicted, each could receive up to a year in county jail.

“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.”

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