Businesses in downtown Martinez boarded up Friday preparing for what could become a heated weekend protest after a couple tried to paint over a Black Lives Matter mural.
The incident grabbed national headlines and now there are worries that counter protesters could turn the demonstration into a standoff.
“The people organizing this in the first place, they have nothing but peaceful intentions,” said business owner Candice Gilatto. “The fear is all around who will come and what they’ll do and I’m scared of that.”
The demonstration has been planned for weeks in response to some white supremacy fliers that surfaced downtown, but then the incident happened on 4th of July.
A Martinez pair painted over part of the city-approved street mural and the video went viral.
On Thursday night, the pair appeared on Fox News explaining they felt they needed to take a stand against the Black Lives Matter organization, urging others to do the same.
City leaders say they are gearing up for potential conflict between folks on both sides of the issue. Police say they’ll be out in force and streets will be blocked off to traffic in parts of downtown.
“There’s people who take advantage of these situations so we’re protecting our businesses against those people,” said Arash Pakzad, owner of Barrelista Coffee House.
Pakzad says his café will be open on Sunday but he will also be handing out water to Black Lives Matter demonstrators, he and others hope to show the world the true heart of Martinez.
“We just hope people will be sensible and not react,” Vice Mayor Mark Ross. “Say their peace and enjoy the day in Martinez.”