An unidentified woman used black paint and a roller to cover some of the giant yellow letters in front of the Contra Costa county courthouse on Saturday as a man in a red MAGA hat and a T-shirt reading “Four More Years” kept a sparse crowd of onlookers at bay.
“There is no racism,” the man said in a video taken by an onlooker. “It’s a leftist lie. It’s a lie from the media, the liberal left.”
The woman, wearing a red shirt with an American flag, paused from her painting and declared in an agitated voice: “Keep this shit in ... New York. This is not happening in my town.”
“What is wrong with you?” asked a woman standing nearby.
Other bystanders shouted at the couple. At one point a woman stepped into the picture and took a can of black paint from the vandals.
Members of the community finished painting “Black Lives Matter” in yellow block letters earlier in the day after obtaining a permit to do so, according to police.
“It appeared that the couple came to the mural with cans of paint and a roller with the specific purpose of vandalizing the mural,” Matinez Police Chief Manjit Sappal said in a statement on Sunday.
“The community spent a considerable amount of time putting the mural together only to have it painted over in a hateful and senseless manner,” the chief added. “The city of Martinez values tolerance, and the damage to the mural was divisive and hurtful. Please help us identify those that are responsible for this crime, so they can be held accountable for their actions.”
The couple escaped before police arrived on the scene. A photo provided to investigators by a bystander clearly shows their car — with the license plate.
President Donald Trump has vowed to punish anti-racism protesters who have torn down statues of historical figures who supported slavery. He called Black Lives Matter a “symbol of hate” after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to paint the phrase on Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower.