MARTINEZ (CBS SF) — The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday it would be charging the man and woman caught on camera vandalizing the Black Lives Matter mural on July 4 with multiple misdemeanors including a hate-crime charge.
The District Attorney said 42-year-old Nichole Anderson and 53-year-old David Nelson, both Martinez residents, 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 by witnesses on video that went viral after being posted to social media.
The temporary Black Lives Matter mural in downtown Martinez in front of the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse was painted on Saturday, July 4, after a local 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 — had helped paint the words over a five-hour period.
After the mural was completed, Nelson and Anderson 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,” stated Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton 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 the following alleged offenses:
- Violation of Civil Rights
- Vandalism Under $400
- Possession of Tools to Commit Vandalism or Graffiti
There have been additional incidents at the site of the mural since the vandalism. On Sunday evening, a 30-year-old Martinez man was arrested on suspicion of brandishing a loaded firearm and possession of a loaded and concealed weapon after an argument with another person at the downtown mural, police said.
Witnesses told police the suspect Joseph Osuna yelled, “All lives matter” as he drove past the mural. Police said Osuna then stopped, got out of his vehicle and started arguing with one person in a group at the mural site. During the argument, police said, Osuna brandished a .22 caliber revolver at that person. Police later found that revolver to be loaded.
If convicted, the two defendants charged Tuesday 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.