North Hollywood Church Apologizes for 'No Trespassing' Signs Directed at Black Woman

Ameera Butt
July 08, 2020 - 3:32 pm

    A North Hollywood church is apologizing after a videotaped incident involving a Black woman, who was resting under a nearby tree on church property, and its volunteers who posted "No Trespassing" signs near where she was sitting.

    On Wednesday, St. Paul First Lutheran Church and School in North Hollywood recounted what happened on its Facebook page between Alex Marshall-Brown, who was identified by the church on its page, and its volunteers.

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    The church goes on to write that the volunteers from the church, who were involved in the exchange, have voluntarily requested to step down from their positions.

    The church wrote on its Facebook page that "an exchange was recorded at St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church between Alex Marshall-Brown and a couple volunteer and non volunteer workers from the church. Marshall-Brown, who was sitting under a tree on church property, was asked to leave, as she was sitting on private property. After initial interaction with church personnel, Marshall-Brown started recording when the two men posted no trespassing signs near where she was sitting. It is the position of St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church and School that Marshall-Brown posed no risk or threat to the property and that this incident was not handled in a way representative of the church or the school."

    According to a CBS LA story, "Video taken by the woman was posted on social media by her friend Thaddeus Schafer and showed the volunteers attaching the “No Trespassing” sign to the tree."

    One of the volunteers in the video says to Marshall-Brown "All Lives Matter." They then begin to post a "No Trespassing" sign on a tree in the video. Marshall-Brown is a stunt performer as the video from her friend below says.

    Santiago Botero, acting principal at St. Paul’s school, issued the following statement saying he was out of town at the time of the incident but believes it could have and should have been handled more respectfully.

    “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.”