LOS ANGELES—Dozens of protesters clashed with followers of Christian worship leader Sean Feucht and the “Let Us Worship” movement on Skid Row in Los Angeles on Dec. 30. The protesters were attempting to block access to Feucht's homeless outreach event.
A dozen protesters encircled a reporter and photographer from The Epoch Times. Someone threw a smoke bomb on the street, taunts escalated, and protesters began physically shoving the photographer. The Epoch Times' reporting team left for safety reasons, with the photographer being chased as he ran away.
Police were on scene, but did not approach the protesters.
Although Feucht scheduled the event and was to perform, he didn’t appear.
Protesters blocked one of the major access points to the event by parking their cars in all lanes of a one-way street. Others demonstrated on the street, voicing opposition to Feucht’s view that government restrictions due to COVID-19 are an infringement on religious freedom.
Among those demonstrating against Feucht were members of The Row Church, also called The Church Without Walls, and the Los Angeles Community Action Network. Some held signs saying Black Lives Matter.
Although Feucht, who has toured the United States this year with his “Let Us Worship” message, did not appear at the event, members of his team passed out clothing and food.
The same type of outreach event happened at Echo Park in Los Angeles in the morning and afternoon of Dec. 31. There were no immediate reports of any unrest or public disturbances at those events, but activists critical of the gathering were on hand, continuing their calls for the city to shut down the gatherings.
A New Year’s Eve “Let Us Worship” event at a church parking lot in Valencia was scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.
Activists said they were upset at Mayor Eric Garcetti for allowing the three events, and vowed to protest at his office, according to reports. Garcetti said Wednesday night that Los Angeles police and county public health officials would be monitoring Feucht's activities, while recognizing the activity as a religious event.
“There are constitutionally protected rights, both religion and protest, which clearly he has used and exercised, but just because we do have the right to do things, doesn't mean it's the right thing to do,” Garcetti said. “So I would encourage him first and foremost to come back, have a good concert after this pandemic is done.
"We do not want to see this [virus] spread, and the more spread there is, the more hospitalizations, the more deaths. So if you care about human lives, and what God has given each of us, which is the power of life, please don't do this.''
Chris Venn, 73, who said he and his wife were from a group called San Pedro Neighbors for Peace and Justice, was inside his parked car in the middle of 5th Street as part of the blockade. A sign on the couple’s car stated: “Throw Feucht To The Lions.”
“This is a disgusting presentation of Christianity,” Venn said. “Los Angeles is being affected by the pandemic more than almost any other city in the country. [Feucht] is known for having rallies and telling people that COVID is a crime against Christians. He’s referring to the stipulations that people shouldn’t gather in churches because it’s dangerous to them.”
Morgan Barnhill, who is from Texas and is currently staying with friends and family in Southern California for the holidays, told The Epoch Times that what transpired during the Skid Row outreach and counterprotest was not benefiting the homeless.
“I’m not here for the chaos,” Barnhill said. “I’m not here for anything but to bring hope to the hopeless. It’s not about the noise. It’s not about the protest. We’re here to be friends with the people of Skid Row to understand what they need. We’re here to share our testimony about how Jesus has changed our lives. ... This is doing nothing for the homeless community because no one is talking to the homeless community.
“It’s not about who wears a mask and who doesn’t and who deserves food and who doesn’t. Everyone is worthy in the eyes of Jesus,” she said. “That’s why I’m here because people need to know what the love of Christ looks and feels like. This is not it. This is just noise. Jesus isn’t noise.”
Feucht, whom The Epoch Times was unable to reach, tweeted on Dec. 31: “While distributing meals to the homeless on Skid Row, our team was assaulted with smoke bombs, pepper spray and death threats.
“The world will tell you to not push in, not minister, not gather. But JESUS pushed in, He ministered, He gathered. Don’t be discouraged. FOLLOW JESUS!”