Church Posts 'No Trespassing' Sign After Black Woman Merely Sits On Lawn

by Gina Vaynshteyn
A Black Woman Was Sitting On A Church Lawn When Men Came Out And Posted "No Trespassing" Signs
Alex Marshall-Brown/Facebook

Alex Marshall-Brown’s video showing the men hanging up the ‘no trespassing’ sign and saying ‘all lives matter’ has since gone viral

In a now-viral video posted earlier this week, church volunteers were seen hanging up a “no trespassing” sign after seeing a Black woman sit on the church lawn.

On July 7, Alex Marshall-Brown, a Los Angeles-based actor and stunt performer, chose a peaceful spot on the grass outside St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church in North Hollywood to work on her laptop. But about ten minutes later, two security employees confronted her, telling her that they’d received a complaint about her being there and warned her that the next step would be calling the cops.

After Marshall-Brown politely declined leaving, she saw a woman staring at her through the window of a building also owned by the church. Another woman came outside and checked on the locks, which made Marshall-Brown feel very uncomfortable, according to BuzzFeed News.

Marshall-Brown started writing about the experience on Facebook as a form of protection.

“I wanted to make sure at least that existed before whatever else came next,” she told BuzzFeed.

Two men affiliated with the church then started nailing a “no trespassing” sign to the tree next to where Marshall-Brown was sitting. She started recording the conversation, which showed one of the men explaining to her that they’ve had “issues” with trespassers and vandals in the past. He said the church has called the police before, but the police were unable to do anything because of a lack of signage. Marshall-Brown asked if she posed a threat to the church.

His response? “We have to treat everybody the same — all lives matter.”

“I said nothing about any lives, sir,” Marshall-Brown said.

About four minutes into the recording, Marshall-Brown saw that a woman showed up, also recording. The woman, who seemed to be affiliated with the church, told Marshall-Brown that she felt like her life was being threatened because Marshall-Brown was “arguing” with her.

“I could tell you for hours what has happened here,” the woman says. Marshall-Brown asked her what happened, and the woman said that people would “sit around” and “threaten the children” who attended the nearby church-affiliate school. “You apparently have your own agenda,” the woman told Marshall-Brown, who responded by saying she was just trying to get work done.

In her Facebook post, Marshall-Brown wrote that just after the woman left she had friends “appear out of nowhere” to sit with her across the street “and bear witness to [her] experience.”

“From the very beginning, it felt very strange because no representative from the church had taken the time to come out and notify me with any dignity,” Marshall-Brown told BuzzFeed. “It was absolutely terrifying to sit there and to know Black history in America and know how easily things get swept under the rug.”

Marshall-Brown’s video and message went viral on both Facebook and TikTok, which prompted swift backlash against St. Paul’s church.

People flocked to Yelp to post negative reviews, with one person writing, “Promoting prejudice behavior in a place that is supposed to be welcoming to all. Don’t waste your time trying to find god here.” Another one left a review, saying, “Shame on them. Promoting hate, harassment and just poor behavior. They had a chance to teach and welcome a new person and instead did the opposite. I do not recommend visiting here. They are uninviting and are not Christ like in their beliefs.”

On Wednesday, St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church responded on Facebook, apologizing to Marshall-Brown. They announced that the church volunteers involved in this “voluntarily requested to step down from their positions.”

Mr. Santiago Botero, the acting principal at St. Paul’s school, also apologized, writing:

“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.” He added, “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.”

Botero also wrote that he, too, had experienced racism as a Latino immigrant: “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.”

Marshall-Brown told BuzzFeed that she hopes that all of this leads to real change, and that she’s willing to help them by giving them anti-racist resources and offering her time if they wanted to continue the conversation.

“They are saying some of the right things, but true reformation is in the action, and I’m looking forward to seeing what that looks like with them,” she said.