Two people accused of painting over giant block letters reading "Black Lives Matter" on a California street have been charged with a hate crime. Nicole Anderson, 42, and David Nelson, 53, of Martinez, a city of 38,000 where the mural is located, were charged Tuesday with violation of civil rights, vandalism under $400, and possession of tools to commit vandalism, all misdemeanors, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office. A widely shared video of the July 4 incident shows a woman using a paint roller to splash black paint across the first two letters of the yellow mural. More than 100 people had spent five hours painting the mural in front of a courthouse in Martinez earlier in the day, per CBS News. The city had given its approval after fliers threatening BLM supporters, from a group called "White Pride World Wide," were found on June 27.
"The narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism—it's a lie," a man, seen wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat and a Trump 2020 campaign shirt, says in the video, per the San Francisco Chronicle. "No one wants Black Lives Matter here." The woman adds, "This is not happening in my town," per NBC News. The district attorney's office said Anderson painted while Nelson "directly aided in the alleged criminal conduct." Each could face up to a year in county jail if convicted. "We must address the root and byproduct of systemic racism in our country," said District Attorney Diana Becton, noting the mural was "a peaceful and powerful way to communicate the importance of Black lives." Police are still looking for the person who painted "White Lives Matter" in white paint just a couple of miles from the mural, per the Chronicle. (Read more hate crime stories.)