A Black Lives Matter mural in the East Bay has turned into a lightning rod after police say it sparked two tense confrontations this weekend.
One in which vandals tried to paint over the city-approved mural and another where a man is accused of pointing a gun at those trying to protect it.
Black Lives Matter supporters are so worried that someone will strike again and vandalize the mural that they are standing near the Contra Costa County Courthouse to keep a watchful eye on it.
“I said to my friends on Facebook ‘yeah I’ll be doing guard duty again,’” said Martinez resident Valentine Clarke.
With her cell phone in hand, Clarke guarded the three words in bright yellow paint. She said she felt compelled to drive over from Pacheco and watch over the Black Lives Matter mural in Martinez, after a white couple was caught on camera Saturday trying to paint over it.
“I feel a duty to come down here and document anything that I see that might be any wrong-doing, make sure racists don’t get their day,” said Clarke.
Tensions were still high on Sunday, when police arrested 30-year-old Joseph Osuna of Martinez for allegedly pointing a gun at a Black Lives Matter supporter who was trying to get his license plate after he yelled “all lives matter” in front of the mural.
“Almost like instant karma, immediately as he did that a police pulled up right behind him,” said Martinez resident Jeff Christensen.
He said people on Facebook have already outed the couple caught on camera vandalizing the mural. Christensen said he hopes the law catches up with them quickly.
“Absolutely we’re wondering why it’s taking so long. We know their names, we know the license plate number of their truck,” he said.
Martinez Councilmember Mark Voss said most of his constituents support the Black Lives Matter movement, which is why the city signed off on the location of the mural. But like any city in America, there’s people who disagree with the message.
“The legal consequences we’re going to leave to the DA, we’re going to push for the full application of the law,” Voss said. “Of course there are people who don’t believe this is an appropriate use of a public street they can come talk to me.”