Protest at Fuller Seminary Decries “Silence of the White Evangelical Church” About Recent Police Shootings

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Story, Pictures and Video by BRANDON VILLALOVOS

3:14 pm | July 8, 2016


About 100 demonstrators donning all-black clothing sprawled across the lawns and concrete pathways in front of Fuller Theological Seminary’s Payton Hall Friday to protest the recent shooting deaths of black men by police across the country and what they said was the silence of the school and the “White Evangelical Church” about those shootings.

“This has been a very painful week for the African American community. The back-to-back killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota by police officers have torn hearts across the nation,” said event organizer Jeanelle Austin, Director of Operations, William E. Pannell Center for African American Church Studies.

“In response, a small group from within the Fuller community organized a die-in demonstration — to protest the killings of Black people by the police and the silence of the White evangelical church that all too often follows these killings,” she said.

The “Die-in,” as it was called, consisted of a diverse crowd of protesters lying down on their backs, motionless and in silence, in memory of those killed by police.

“We gathered to lay our bodies down on the ground as a reminder of those who died and as a call for the church to not only speak up but to act,” Austin said.

In addition to Austin, the event was organized by  Jonathan Stoner, current Master of Divinity student and Tamisha Tyler, Fuller Seminary Alumna ’13, according to Fuller spokesperson.

“People have asked, ‘Why Fuller?’ We’re not just protesting the violence and the killing. There’s been an outcry of people wondering where exactly is the White Evangelical Church during all of this,” explained a protestor through a megaphone on the steps of Payton Hall.

“Let’s raise the consciousness of our Fuller brothers and sisters on the deep and systemic impact of these ongoing killings,” said Austin.

Organizers supplied a stack of printed photos on the steps containing the names and date of death of each victim to help put a face to a name and humanize the lives that have been lost.

Die-in protestors placed the photos on their chest as they laid down on the concrete for about forty-five minutes.

“We need the church to stop being passive and silent,” said one protester.

Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez was in attendance to observe the opening speech as the crowd and watch and listened peacefully.

The steps of Payton Hall also served as a station for anyone to write poetry and reflections about personal experiences, concerns, or anything at all pertaining to the topic.