By Wilson Walker

MARTINEZ (KPI) – The quiet city of Martinez was suddenly thrust onto the national stage last week, when a video of two Trump supporters painting over a Black Lives Matter sign in front of the courthouse went viral, but it’s a spotlight no one here wants.

Now, a protest is planned for Sunday. The city’s police chief has called for peace and says he is working with planners to keep the city safe, but people who live and work here don’t know what to expect.

“I’ve lived in Martinez for 20 years, and I’ve worked down here, on and off, for 20 years,” says Chef Dave of Haute Stuff Cafe on Main Street. “This is definitely national news, which you wouldn’t expect from a small town like Martinez.”

Two weeks ago KPIX was talking with Chef Dave about the struggle to keep his business alive during the pandemic. Now he has a new worry.

“Laying in bed and wondering should I board up or should I not board up,” Dave says.

This was a good day to be in the boarding-up business in downtown Martinez.

“A couple here, and another one down the corner,” says one plywood installer named Isiah. “And then we keep having people just keep asking to put up more.”

“My landlord, Mr. Dunivan, says ‘yes, we are going to board up,’ Just in case,” explains Judy, an owner at Antiques On The Main.

The antiques store, like many others, will be closed all weekend. It is a setback on top of a crisis.

“Yes, we’re trying to get through the pandemic,” Judy says. “We’ve had that for three months. We’re scared we’re going to go through another three months.”

“It’s just added expense, at a time and added frustration, not knowing how this is going to end up,” explained Ernie Guerrero as he unloaded plywood outside of his restaurant, La Tapatia Mexican Cuisine.

That was the frustration across town Friday, that the ugly scene outside the courthouse is bringing unfair attention to Martinez, and possibly more trouble on Sunday, regardless of what peaceful protesters have planned.

“There’s the other people that come to cause mayhem,” Guerrero worries.

So, normally quiet Martinez is taking precautions, while hoping for a quiet weekend.

“I just hope everything goes well,” Judy says. “And everybody minds their manners like they should.”

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