MARTINEZ, Calif. - The City of Martinez is in the national spotlight, after a video went viral showing a woman painting over a Black Lives Matter mural.
The three words are sprawled across Court Street in downtown Martinez. The mural, and the community’s response to it, has become the talk of the town and country. On Saturday, volunteers spent the July 4th holiday painting the phrase on the street. Cell phone video captured a woman painting over the mural within an hour of it being completed.
Justin Gomez, organizer with Martizians for Black Lives, said he obtained a city permit for the mural.
“We were very aware that it could be vandalized,” Gomez said. “I was more so shocked at how brazen it was. That vandalism occurred an hour after we finished and we were down here moments later and we fixed it.”
Also on Saturday, an image of a racial slur on a parking garage in Martinez was circulated on the app “Nextdoor.” A resident told KTVU an officer paid for supplies with his own money and painted over the slur by the end of the day.
On Sunday, officers arrested a man for pointing a gun at someone at the mural site, after he drove by and shouted, “all lives matter.”
The city is hearing from people across the nation. Vice Mayor Mark Ross said the comments have been both positive and negative.
“Trying to change something so important as this, and so ingrained as this, is not going to be easy.” Ross said. “There’s going to be some resistance to it, but what this has done has provoked an immune response toward this virus we call racism.”
Words of support are now chalked around the BLM phrase. Gomez wants to the see the attention turned into action.
“Words matter in the street, but words matter when they’re written for anti-racist policies when they’re deconstructing white supremacy in our counties and communities,” Gomez said. “It’s elevated the conversation about Black lives that we’re having here in Martinez to a national scale. I never thought this would happen with a public art installation in solidarity with our Black community.”