May 19, 2024 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Venice Pastor Says Church Was Target of Hate Crime

67-year-old church in Venice has stained-glass windows smashed

By Sam Catanzaro

A pastor of a predominantly African American church in Venice says his congregation was a victim of a hate crime as a vandal destroyed nearly 70-year-old religious symbols.

According to Pastor Marvis Davis of New Bethel Baptist Church, as seen in surveillance footage and confirmed by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), on Tuesday, April 28 an unidentified individual smashed four of the church’s stained-glass windows. One of the windows belonged to Davis’s office.

While detectives for the LAPD Pacific Division are investigating the incident at the church as vandalism, Davis characterizes what happened as a hate crime. The 67-year-old church, located at 503 Brooks Avenue, has a congregation that is 90 percent African American, according to Davis.

“The LAPD can call it what they want and I can call it what I want,” Davis said. “The church is an African American church. And for this particular person to attack the stained-glass windows, symbols of the cross…is obviously against the church.”

Davis, the church’s third pastor, has been the pastor of New Bethel for 34 years and says they have never been broken into.

The stained-glass windows, according to Davis, have been part of the church since its founding.

“The windows were purchased by four African American people who wanted the church, God’s house, to be a sanctuary for the community,” Davis said. “We serve the community in every capacity, it doesn’t matter the nationality.”

New Bethel is currently seeking estimates to repair the stained glass windows and says any help by the public is appreciated.

What is especially dishearting, says Davis, is that the incident occurred during a pandemic when the church and its member are observing public health to stay at home.

“This person didn’t even wear a mask,” Davis said. “It’s very disheartening. It really shows mental illness.”

Security footage appears to show a white male committing the crime but LAPD Pacific Division Detective Spence could not confirm this saying the video is too dark to tell.

If anybody has any information about the suspect, they can contact the LAPD Pacific Division at (310) 482-6334.

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