Two Martinez residents accused of attempting to paint out a city-approved Black Lives Matter slogan on a downtown street pleaded not guilty to hate crime and other misdemeanor charges filed against them after they were videotaped in the act.
Residents Nichole Anderson, 42, and David, Nelson, 53, were charged with three misdemeanors including a hate crime for their actions during the July 4 weekend – when onlookers filmed their efforts to paint over a portion of the BLM slogan with black paint.
The video, which garnered worldwide attention, depict Anderson attempting to cover up the first two letters of the slogan while Nelson, wearing a “Four More Years” t-shirt, films her and engages angry passersby.
On Tuesday an attorney for the pair, who are domestic partners, said he was “looking forward” to challenging the charges against the couple in court.
“We look forward to presenting our case to the jury,” attorney Bilal Essayli said. “We think the charges here, frankly, are outrageous. That a highly politicized DA who’s funded by George Soros would categorize anyone who disagrees with the radical Black Lives Matter organization as hateful or racist… It’s an overcharge in our view, it’s a political message and the justice system should not be weaponized in that manner.”
Essayli, whose firm was hired to defend the case by conservative nonprofit group the Center for American Liberty, argued that Nelson and Anderson were merely expressing their political views.
“This case is really about the city of Martinez using taxpayer dollars and taxpayer property to co-sponsor and endorse the Black Lives Matter organization, which is anti-police and is anti-American,” Essayli said.
Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton did not comment on Tuesday’s court proceeding but said in a release at the time charges against the couple were announced:
“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. 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.”
Anderson and Nelson are expected to return to court on October 13 to set a trial date.