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Couple charged with hate crime for allegedly vandalizing Black Lives Matter mural

ABC News logo ABC News 7/8/2020
a little girl walking down the street: A California couple are seen defacing a Black Lives Matter mural in a video shared by the City of Martinez police seeking community assistance in identifying the couple. © City of Martinez Police via YouTube A California couple are seen defacing a Black Lives Matter mural in a video shared by the City of Martinez police seeking community assistance in identifying the couple.

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.

MORE: After 5 years, Black Lives Matter inspires new protest movements

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.

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