In the midst of an escalating police presence, the Episcopal Church offers protesters in Pasadena refuge Religion

PASADENA (RNS) – Rev. Mike Kinman, Rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, received the call on Thursday, August 21, just before midnight.

It was his son who let him know that the police had blocked streets near Pasadena City Hall and All Saints Church. The officers stood in riot gear on the steps of the town hall and ordered protesters from Black Lives Matter Pasadena to leave the camp they had set up.

Protesters have been holding demonstrations after the Pasadena Police Department on August 15 for days shot Anthony McClain, a 32-year-old black man from Pasadena, according to Pasadena Star News. They urge the Pasadena police not only to release the names of the officers involved in McClain’s death, but also to fire and prosecute them.

Kinman decided to join his son on Thursday evening and by the time he got there the protesters had already moved to another location nearby. Police declared their gathering an illegal gathering and demanding that they disperse or be arrested, Kinman said. Kinman helped move protesters from the area to the All Saints Church parking lot. Roadblocks made it difficult for protesters to get to their cars, Kinman said.

CONNECTED: California religious leaders use the privilege of clergy to advocate for Black Lives Matter

Protest signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund PPD” are hanging on Pasadena City Hall on August 21, 2020. RNA photo by Alejandra Molina

More than 10 protesters spent the night at All Saints Church after Kinman said there was a brief altercation with police outside the church. In video footage, activist and leader of the Black Lives Matter, Andre Henry, is heard telling officials, “Am I leading an armed rebellion that you come out with guns and shields?”

(Henry is a columnist for the Religion News Service)

Kinman said the doors of All Saints Church would remain open to protesters if they saw themselves “in danger” by the police.

“That is the job of the Church,” Kinman said. “If you are not safe in town hall, then where are you safe? Well, you are safe here. “

By Saturday, Kinman said, protesters no longer used All Saints as a home base as they were no longer in danger.

Pasadena police chief Bill Grisafe told Religion News Service that Thursday night officials declared the gathering an illegal gathering “to keep City Hall and the surrounding area safe.”

“There was no violence used by officials to pay off the group and no arrests were made,” Grisafe said.

However, protesters describe an overwhelming scene that night.

As they were packing up, Henry said, “The police started walking up to us by making that loud grunt.”

“We ran. We fled,” he said.

CONNECTED: For full coverage of the Racial Justice Protests on RNS, click here

The demonstrators pitched their tents on the closed church premises, next to about 20 homeless people who also sleep on the church campus.

Some activists continued to gather at church on Friday to chat and protest in the nearby shopping and dining district of Old Pasadena that evening.

A Black Lives Matter banner hangs outside All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif., Friday, August 21, 2020. RNA photo by Alejandra Molina

Dozens of protesters marched down Colorado Boulevard Friday night blocking intersections as diners ate outside of restaurants. They sang “Black Lives, You Are Here!” and “Whose streets, our streets!” and held signs saying “Cop = Slave-Catcher”.

Following the police murder, the community sues and gathers peacefully, Kinman added.

Instead of sending therapists and social workers, he remarked, “We send police officers with riot gear and weapons.”

In a Facebook post, Kinman wrote that he was inspired by the demonstrators and was grateful for All Saints Church.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to practice our values ​​of radical inclusion, brave justice, joyous spirituality and ethical responsibility,” said Kinman.

Kinman said the Church’s commitment to being a sanctuary embodies “the feeling on the banner on our lawn that Black Lives Matter”.

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