MARTINEZ (CBS SF) — Between 1,500 and 2,000 people walked from the downtown Martinez courthouse to Martinez Waterfront Park in a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest Sunday afternoon.
The march took place in the wake of a series of local developments over the last several weeks related to national protests against police brutality.
“We’re not going to put up with it,” Cameron Marshall of Martinez. “You see the community out here. It’s time for a change.”
The march started around 4 p.m. and took place in an orderly fashion, with protesters stopping a few times to chant as they walked the approximately half-mile distance.
Sunday’s protest came eight days after a white couple painted black over a city-permitted Black Lives Matter mural on Court Street downtown.
The District Attorney has since charged the couple, Nichole Anderson, 42, and David Nelson, 53, with 3 misdemeanors each, including a hate crime charge.
“She was going on about ‘her’ town. This is ‘our’ town,” said protest organizer Nakenya Allen, who is African American and a 12-year resident of Martinez. “The town needs to start taking some sort of stand, one way or the other, to make it very clear where its values lie.”
The protest, Martinez Police Chief Manjit Sappal warned in a social media post on Saturday, could draw armed counterprotesters who were inclined to support the police.
Sappal declined their offer of support and urged anyone with a weapon to keep it at home.
The demonstration was loud but peaceful. Downtown businesses were boarded up just in case it got out of hand. There did not appear to be any organized group of counterdemonstrators. Some locals who disagreed with the politics of the march engaged in polite, and sometimes animated conversations.
“I support Black lives, I don’t support Black lives matter,” said Danny Connolly of Pleasant Hill who was watching from the margins. “They do, they do [matter]. But [the protesters] only come out and do this when a white cop kills a black person. I mean, why not do this when the kids in the inner city are getting killed?”
“He doesn’t know,” said Susan Wodrusch of Martinez who suggested community members needed to talk to each other more about race through what she called “kind educating.”
“Being kind to other people, explaining why it is important to stand with Black Lives Matter right now.”