A video circulating online shows volunteers from a California church confronting a Black woman and saying “all lives matter” as she sits on a church lawn.
Voice actor Alex Marshall-Brown recorded the video outside St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church and School in North Hollywood, California.
Natasha del Riego, who shared the video on Twitter, wrote, “Alex Marshall-Brown was sitting on the grass in front of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in North Hollywood, California, working on her laptop. Church workers wanted her gone so they bought a ‘No Trespassing’ sign and put it on a tree while telling her ‘All lives matter’.”
Alex Marshall-Brown was sitting on the grass in front of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in North Hollywood, California working on her laptop.
Church workers wanted her gone so they bought a "No Trespassing" sign and put it on a tree while telling her "All lives matter". pic.twitter.com/IdhK3CC58Q
— Natasha Del Riego (@ndelriego) July 8, 2020
In the video, posted on July 8, a man can be seen placing a sign on a tree outside the church as Marshall-Brown films.
The man says to Marshall-Brown, “You gave people a bad time, so I’m going to take care of it,” to which she replies, “How did I give people a bad time, sir?”
“You told them there’s no no trespassing signs, so I’m putting a no trespassing sign right here,” the man says.
“Did you go buy that just now for me?” Marshall-Brown asks.
“That’s for you,” the man agrees.
“That’s so unwelcoming, on church property,” Marshall-Brown says.
“Sorry, when people aren’t nice, we’re not nice,” the man responds.
Marshall-Brown asks, “How have I been unkind to you, sir?”
“You haven’t, but we have to treat everybody the same. All lives matter,” the man says, before suggesting the woman move to a nearby park.
Marshall-Brown inquires whether the placing of the sign is a precursor to the cops being called. The man confirms the police have already been called, “and they said we can’t do anything, because there isn’t a no trespassing sign,” which is why he is putting one up, he says.
A second video shows a woman who appears to be filming Marshall-Brown explaining that the church has encountered numerous issues with people on their property before.
— Natasha Del Riego (@ndelriego) July 8, 2020
Marshall-Brown says the woman “could have come and spoken with me directly, and not called other people to go ahead and usher me off the property.”
“We all worry about our own lives,” the woman says.
“How am I threatening your life, miss?” Marshall-Brown says.
The other woman then goes on to say Marshall-Brown “clearly [has her] own agenda … we’ve tried, and we’ve been burned so many times … assault on our secretaries, indecent exposure with our kids, vandalism.”
Marshall-Brown asks her, “Are you worried that I’m going to do that to your children?” and the woman replies that she doesn’t know.
Here’s what you need to know:
Marshall-Brown Called the Incident ‘Ridiculous’
Marshall-Brown described what occurred on Twitter and on Facebook:
So this is currently happening.
I’m sitting in a church yard in noho- across from Tujunga tennis courts. I’m on a blanket in the grass working on my laptop with my notebook out.
Some Noho bike cops ride up to tell me that I’m advised to leave because they got a call that I’m trespassing on private property. There’s no fence, no sign. I’m 8ft away from the sidewalk.
I tell them this is a church.
I tell them I was here earlier this week.
I remind them how ridiculous this request is considering I’m clearly & unobtrusively sitting on grass.
I thank them for doing their jobs. I go nowhere.
Neither do they.
I ask them; next steps?
They say the person who made the call may be inclined to call the Cop cops.
I point out how silly it would be for them to call the cops for a person sitting on grass. Whoever called could just come outside and speak with me directly.
I tell both those latinX men that I get that they are following directions from their boss, but given the way the world is shifting, they should also question how their boss supports racist systems.
They stayed and watched me sit on grass for a while longer as I got back to work. Then they rode away.
Lying in wait for the cops to roll through now. I’ve seen several drive by since then.
Then these gentlemen walked up!!
(Yes, please share! Yelp, call, & disrupt this racist behavior)
Just after this I had friends appear out of Nowhere to sit with me across the street and bear witness to my experience. I’m so grateful for all of you that joined me!!! We are Legion!!! Thank you to everyone else that reached out to make sure I was ok. I’m brimming over with your show of support. 💖
What a weird world.
This church earned all the negative attention they’re receiving.
WWJD means nothing to them.
She goes on to name the church as “St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod” and asks people to “flood” the church’s inbox.
The Church Has Issued an Apology
The church issued a statement on Facebook that said the volunteers involved in the incident had stepped down and the church had determined “Marshall-Brown posed no risk or threat to the property and … this incident was not handled in a way representative of the church or the school.”
Santiago Botero, the acting principal at St. Paul’s school, said,
The disrespect demonstrated by the individuals does not represent the attitude of St. Paul’s First. I was out of town at the time of the incident, but I believe it could’ve and should’ve been handled more respectfully.
Because our preschool, which is currently operating to provide childcare for families of essential workers and been during this COVID pandemic, we as a staff do have a policy against loitering within a certain radius of school for the safety of the children (this also includes media safety). We had to implement this in response to several incidents of vandalism the church and school experienced. While Alex was not complying with that policy, she was clearly not harming any person or property and it should’ve been more clearly and more respectively communicated to her.
I am personally offended by what I saw in the video and would like to apologize on behalf of St. Paul’s First. I will try to contact Alex and she would ever like to speak to me personally about what she experienced at St. Paul’s First, I would invite the opportunity to meet with her.
As Christians, it is our duty to demonstrate to others the love and mercy that Christ shows to us. Unfortunately, this did not happen yesterday. I immigrated to the United States and have experienced both love from people as well as racist assumptions about me as a Latino man, and even though I can’t put myself in the shoes of the black community, this is why I want to represent St. Paul’s First as a loving church. I was trained as a teacher and am training to be a counselor, and that is what I do. I am here to help, here to help educate people about Christ’s love.