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Over 1,000 People Gather for Black Lives Matter Demonstration in Martinez

The march took place in the wake of a series of local developments over the last several weeks related to national protests against police brutality

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Over 1,000 people gathered in downtown Martinez Sunday afternoon for a Black Lives Matter demonstration at the location where a couple recently defaced a city-sanctioned Black Lives Matter mural.

The group marched peacefully from the downtown Martinez courthouse to Martinez Waterfront Park.

The march started around 4 p.m. and took place in an orderly fashion, with protesters stopping a few times to chant as they walked the approximately half-mile distance.

Police said at least one person was treated for a heat-related issues.

Some people from across the Bay Area decided to join the march specifically because of the incident with the couple painting over the mural.

“I saw on the news about the painting over of the Black Lives Matter and I thought it was pretty pathetic and in bad taste,” said demonstrator Damian Morgan from Marin City. “So I wanted to show some support from where I’m from.”

But this march was organized weeks before that because of several disturbing incidents in town.

“What kicked this off was the white supremacist fliers that were found in downtown Martinez,” said organizer Sevgi Fernandez. “We started organizing literally the day that happened.”

However, there was a small group of people who did not appreciate the Black Lives Matter message and tried to voice their opposition.

“This isn’t white supremacy,” said Martinez resident Joey Howell. “Just because I say all lives matter doesn’t mean I’m a racist or a white supremacist, because I’m not.”

Howell spent some of the afternoon trying to argue his point, but he and his friends eventually left –that was the extent of any opposition. Concerns that white supremacists might stage a counter protest turned out not to be true.

Footage captured by NBC Bay Area shows protesters peacefully take a knee for eight minuets and 46 seconds, marking the time the Minneapolis Police Officer was on kneeling on George Floyd's neck before he died.

Hundreds of people gathered in Martinez on Sunday to demonstrate in support of the Black Lives Matter movement just days after a couple defaced a city-approved mural painted in honor of the movement. Pete Suratos reports.

This protest meant something personal for a mother and daughter who say they understand plenty of work still needs to be done.

“I think it’s important because of what unfolded the past week was not right,” said Bay Point resident Naima, in reference to the video of the mural being painted over.

It’s why she decided to attend a Black Lives Matter rally for the first time with her 20-year-old daughter Nyla.

Nyla said her grandfather was the victim of police brutality many years ago, which makes this march personal.

“It’s important for me to speak the truth, and do something tomorrow,” she said.

The Black Lives Matter protest in Martinez Sunday had special meaning for a mother and daughter who attended together. Pete Suratos reports.

Crews worked late into night Saturday in anticipation of the protest planned for Sunday.

Heavy police presence was expected in the city, and members of law enforcement from all over Contra Costa County were expected to be on site to assist if needed.

Several business owners decided to protect their businesses by boarding up windows in case the demonstration got out of control.

"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.

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. Jodi Hernandez reports.
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