Pastor Davis and Daughter Subjected to Racism

Woman Shouts Obscenities/Threatens Them

Lutheran Pastor Kenneth Davis and his daughter Cassadi were threatened at Ralphs.

(Editor’s note: The following is a sickening example of blatant racism in Pacific Palisades. I’ve combined the accounts by Lutheran Pastor Kenneth Davis and his daughter Cassadi, describing an incident that happened at a local grocery store on April 18.)

Pastor Kenneth Davis wrote: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” This quote is attributed to the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. One thing Nietzsche neglected to point out, however, is some things may not kill us, but in the process of making us better, they can piss us off and make us mad as hell! Thursday evening, April 18, at about 8:20 p.m. my 16-year-old daughter, and I, had one of those, “piss you off before making you better” experiences.

That evening, I was at the Palisades Lutheran Church, where for the past two years I have served as the Pastor. I had just finished officiating a Maunday Thursday service, preparing for Good Friday and then, three services on Easter Sunday.

Per my instructions, my twin daughters Cassadi and Camryn walked to Ralphs grocery store in the Pacific Palisades community where I serve and we live.

Cassadi Davis wrote: I was at Ralphs around 8:10 p.m. because my dad had asked me to pick up some fruit.

As I walked towards the carts, I heard someone talking behind me. I turned around and saw a white middle-aged woman with dark sandy blonde hair.

Initially, she appeared to be talking to herself, so I continued to mind my own business and get a cart.

As I turned around the woman came close to my face and said, “you fucking nigger!”

I was shocked, but tried not to react, and walked into the store by the fruit section.

Once inside, I called my dad and explained what had happened.

The woman walked into the store and walked towards me. I knew I needed to get away from her. I hid in the candy aisle while I was still on the phone with my dad.

I was scared, shaking and crying, not knowing what this racist woman was going to do next.

I saw the woman walking out of the store, so I told my dad, “she’s leaving.”

I stood by the entrance of the store, still shaking and crying, unable to move.

The Pastor wrote: After the Thursday evening service was over, I left the church heading east on Sunset towards our home in the Alphabet Streets. As I approached the Monument intersection, my cell phone rang, and I heard my daughter Cassadi on the other end crying.

I asked what going on and she said her sister Camryn had gone inside Ralphs to use the restroom and while she (Cassadi) was standing outside getting a shopping cart, a middle-aged while female came very close to her face and began verbally attacking her by saying, “You fucking nigger–I hate you niggers!” I asked if she was safe and told her I was on my way.

As fate, luck, the universe, God would have it, Cassadi’s call came at the precise time I was driving past Ralphs.

Still on the phone with Cassadi and hearing her crying and the fear in her voice, I immediately made a U-turn by the Station 69 fire station and turned into Ralphs’ parking lot. I met my daughter at the front door of the store and asked where the woman was.

Cassadi pointed her out next to a white Passat.

Cassadi wrote: I watched as my dad went up to the lady to ask her what she had said to me.

I could hear the woman as she said to my dad, ‘I hate you fucking niggers.’ She continued to say the same phrase over and over again.

Davis continued: Without thinking and probably not wise, I approached the vehicle and tapped on her widows that were rolled up and asked, “What did you say to my daughter?” She turned on the engine, put the vehicle in reverse all the while continuing to hurl insults and explicatives. She repeatedly shouted, “You fucking niggers, I hate you!”

She then backed up and appeared to be leaving the parking lot exit close to Corpus Christi Catholic Church. To my surprise, she stopped the car, left the engine running, got out of the car and began to walk towards me. Concerned that she might have a weapon, I continued to watch her hands.

She came within 10 feet of where I was standing and again said, “You fucking niggers, I hate you!’ The she added the phrase, “I’m going to get my gun and come back and kill you niggers!” At which point she returned to her vehicle and turned left onto Sunset heading toward the Palisades village.

Cassadi added that she saw the woman get back in the car and heard her shout, “If I see you again in this area, I’m going to shoot you all.”

Cassadi wrote: The woman slammed the door on her white Passat, and then backed out so quickly she hit a shopping cart and sped off.

Pastor Davis continued: “I was in total shock and dismay at what just happened and instructed Cassadi to go inside Ralphs and get her sister while I waited outside for them. Still very shaken and visibly shocked, I took my daughters home where they were speechless and unable to fully grasp the HATE crime Cassadi and I had just experienced.

Cassadi wrote: The saddest thing about the whole situation was there were people in the parking lot while this was happening, but no one said or did anything to help.

Thinking back, I wonder if the reason they didn’t help me is because they thought that I did something to cause this situation. That I wasn’t the victim, but instead the white woman yelling at me was the victim.

I was still crying and didn’t feel safe enough to go back into Ralphs. My dad and my sister went with me. We bought the fruit and then left the store.

That night I had nightmares. I would wake up–half asleep, half awake. I saw my jackets and purses on the back of my bedroom door, and thought they were the lady coming back to kill me.

The next day I was afraid to take my dog on a walk in the Alphabet Streets where we live because I was scared that if I saw a white Passat it could be her.

Until April 18, I would feel safe leaving my house alone to get some ice cream or run errands, but now I’m so scared to leave. I’m terrified that if she were to see me then she would follow through with what she said and kill me.

I find it VERY sad that some people can have so much hate towards an entire race. I mean it’s 2019. This incident makes me wonder: will it be the last time I’m called a NIGGER by a person in the white Pacific Palisades community in which I live?

(Editor’s note: Pastor Davis said that because of his busy church schedule because of Holy Week he did not file a police report until Monday, April 22.)

Davis wrote: “It was there [at the police station] that we were again victimized,” Davis said, adding that with his daughters standing next to him the officer at the front desk started scolding him.

“What took you so long? Why didn’t you come in sooner? Why didn’t you call the police when the incident happened? Did this really happen?”

It was not until a detective in the station instructed the officer at the front that a HATE crime with threat to bodily harm was committed and the officer was required to take a report that the officer complied.

Since the incident, I have been asked some interesting questions such as: What do I think triggered this and was the white middle-aged woman a homeless person? Both questions have deep implications when one takes the time to unpack them.

The question of what triggered this behavior suggest that something must have been said or done to cause this evil person to behave in such a manner because no one or maybe no white person in Pacific Palisades would react this way without being provoked. The stimulus for her outburst was seeing a BLACK FAMILY in Pacific Palisades, her white community and her white world.

The second and equally disturbing question about if she was homeless or a transient also carries with it some serious implications. The inquiry suggests that this kind of behavior and derogatory words could not come from a resident of Pacific Palisades. She must be an outsider, someone who was simply passing through because no one in Pacific Palisades thinks, acts, talks or behaves like that.

Earlier this week, I posted my daughter’s story on Nextdoor Palisades and we’ve been totally blown away at the overwhelming demonstration of support and outrage from more than 150 members of the community. I printed the responses from Nextdoor and gave them to my daughter Cassadi and she cried from reading the love and support expressed in the comments.

Several of our neighbors have sent flowers and stopped by our home to also express their disgust and support as well. Members of the congregation have sent flowers and called. Rabbi Amy, Rabbi Steven, Pastor Grace and Officer Rusty have also been very supportive.

I was most taken by the woman’s racism, rage and revolution. The tangled coil of hate that came from the lips of this woman was truly sad.

Hate is powerful and has been said to contain at least three key components: control, resentment and vindictive triumph. In his book, Hate-Work, David Augsburger states, “Hate is almost universally condemned, but reflection on why hate, how hate takes control, what is hated, and which hate is expressed springs eternal.”

I wrote this story to help “EXORCISE and PURGE” myself of the toxic deadly feelings I have towards this woman and other people who share her racist views. I wrote to detox and treat myself for the cancer of RACISM she exposed my daughter to.

I wrote to ask my neighbors in and around Pacific Palisades where I live and serve: When will AMERICA really change? My lifelong friend James once said to me, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Hate is alive and well in America, towards: Blacks and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Immigrants, and LGBTQ communities.

Now is the time to face the racism and hate, Pacific Palisades! Now is the time for America to face all racism and hate.

“No one is born hating another person because of color of his (her) skin, or his or her background, or his or her religion. People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” — Nelson Mandela

I reached out to members of the Palisades Optimist Club, colleagues in the Palisades Interfaith Council, parishioners in the Lutheran congregation, friends and family trying to make sense of the disturbing event. Below I’ve compiled some of the comments I heard from people:

“How awful. I am so sorry to hear that this happened to you and Cassadi. What is this world coming to?” (BP)

“I am personally very hurt and disturbed that this terrible and hateful woman would have said, or even felt, this way to you and your daughters. You are constantly in the daily prayers, but I also pray for your daughters, especially Cassadi, that the hurt and fear she feels will leave and be replaced by calm and peace. I am still having a hard time just letting this whole incident process in my brain. (RO)

“Oh my – I am so sorry! Not all of us middle aged white women are so hateful.” (YK)

“God is surely testing you & your family.  Good to hear that you are safe…at least physically.” (JP)

“I’m sorry you & Cassadi had to experience a hate crime! It is unfortunate but sadly in our country men & women of color will be disliked or hated for color of our skin not our character or intelligence.” (RD)

“Oh, WOW!  Disgusting to hear!  It should be reported to the local papers also.” I’m sooo sorry, Pastor, especially for Cassadi!  It’s not even the BAD behavior, but the WICKED heart that she has. (KT) 

“Get out of there. GET OUT!!!” Get somewhere where you can breathe and breathe deeply with people who look like you and who look like your beautiful black girls! It’s time. It’s time you ALL live fully in your fullness without being on display and a target for hate!! You deserve to live. It’s what you were created to do!!” (SH)

“My Lord.  I am horrified.  Fred and I shopped at the Ralphs in Palisades last week!”  I am praying for you and your children.  Do what is best for your family. (J&F)

“It is astonishing that that kind of crap still exist in society today. I attributed to the person who was elected and who has set out to divide the country and increase the amount of hate and lack of tolerance. I am afraid that even if they find the lady the police will argue that she’s old and was not really a threat and it was no big deal.” (DS)  

“Incensed, but not really surprised. It is a real issue too in the Palisades. I grew up there. The majority of my friends/boyfriends at Palisades High were African American and we have had some experiences in the community also. Not that blatant though! I was there during the Rodney King riots. They need a wakeup call!” (CR)

“Pastor, I just heard what happened at Ralphs to you and Cassadi, and it sickens me. I think I saw you there may be right after that may have happened? I remember saying hello to you – obviously not knowing what had transpired. I am so sorry you both experienced this hatred and ugliness in our community. I am ashamed that this is has come out of the community I live in. And I am so happy to know you and your daughters.” (CP)

“How horrible! I’m so sorry that happened to you and Cassadi. That’s atrocious behavior!” (RS)

“Oh, Pastor Kenneth, I am so sorry that there are people like this in our country today.” (SK)

“Pastor Kenneth I am sorry and appalled that someone could be so full of Hate.  We are lifting you and the girls up in prayer. We love you all so very much.  I’m sorry that this is still happening!” (RR) 

“This literally makes me sick to my stomach. I will never understand some people’s entitlement, feeling of superiority and blatant hate for others based on nothing but skin color and ignorance. My heart breaks for Cass and pray her sweet spirit and love for everyone can remain intact despite this assault. I know why you said it, but the fact that it didn’t surprise you is as heartbreaking to me as the atrocious incident itself.” (SE)

“I suppose this person has no idea that none of us chooses what color our skin is and “we” don’t choose it…..the good Lord chooses it!  Color is only skin deep and what MATTERS is what’s in a person’s heart and we all know your and sweet Cassidi’s heart. I am SO sorry.” (BM)

“It breaks my heart to hear that you and Cassadi have had such a terrible experience of hate towards you. I am so glad that you were not physically hurt but the pain of racism is worse and cut to your heart.” (DG)

“I have tears running down my face and I am so confused that a human being can even think those thoughts, let alone voice them. This hateful person chose to hurt two of the most loving and upbeat people on this planet and those of us who love you both sorrow with you.” (RS)

“It makes me sick to think people can spew that kind of hatred, and also the horrible threat of violence. I’m so sorry Cassadi had to experience this in our country today. As parents we try to protect our children from harm and evil but evil is always looking for a foothold.” (LH)

“I am so, so sorry you and Cassadi had such a frightening and downright obscene experience within the borders of CA, the USA, and our World.  It’s as painful to hear you say you “weren’t surprised” as it is to know that your dear Cassadi was exposed to such violent words and threats.”  (SS)

“We are deeply disturbed about the racial slur you and your daughter had to endure at Ralph’s. We have lived 40 years in Pacific Palisades and thought until now that this could not happen in this community. Maybe the racism coming from this president has infected the minds of some people in this community. They will not prevail.” (GR)

“Kenneth, I’m so sorry this happened – but as you know, racism (overt and hidden) is very real and alive. Here in the Palisades and across the world. She wasn’t born racist. Her family, friends, media, and president – so many people have taught her to hate, and not enough people have taught her to love and respect.” (CS)

“I am so sorry that you and Cassadi had an experience such hateful behavior.  I can only imagine how horrible acts of racism are to you and other “non-white” people, because I was born white. The hatefulness makes me sick and I am so glad that you are pressing charges.”  (MP)

“Oh Pastor! That is horrible. I am so sorry that happened to you guys. Just disgusting! Clay and I prayed for you this morning before school. If we can help otherwise let us know.” (JC)

“Thanks for sharing this with me. We all must recognize that insidious hatred still lives within the depths of too many humans and we must face off against it with all our love and might. I am with you, Cassadi and your family and now even more motivated than ever to join you in an effort use our respective gifts to educate against racial, religious and political bigotry. May your faith and the love of many comfort you at this difficult time?” (AB)

If it ever happens again Pastor, all I need is a license plate #. The rest is free and for the good of society. I’m sorry to hear this bad news. Hopefully, Cassadi will recover from this incident, and know that we have idiots of all genders and color. But never be swayed by the individual racist opinion, actions or HATE(JP)

 

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3 Responses to Pastor Davis and Daughter Subjected to Racism

  1. Elisa Hunziker says:

    Sue,

    Thank you so much for posting this. After 32 years here, I am shocked. And plan to lend support to the pastor and his family. Both of my daughters attended Lutheran Preschool during Wally Meis’s time as Pastor. It is such a loving community. And they also attended our public schools for the distinct reason of diversity. It’s true that the Palisades is lacking in color, thereby making the Davis family Trail Blazers. I will urge them to stay and welcome all other “victims of racism” to come, but I certainly wouldn’t blame them if they left. Hatred, just depicted in a movie, literally sickens me. To hear of it in the village has left me speechless. I know that I speak for my friends when I say that
    ALL ARE WELCOME HERE, WHO VALUE FAMILY, FRIENDS AND COMMUNITY!

    The Hunziker Family and The Loop Group, A Family of Friends

  2. Tom Hofer says:

    I’m so sorry that you – that ANYONE – has to experience that racism stupidity. Hatred like that comes from ignorance, pure and simple. Sadly, I expect most people with that breed of ignorance are not open-minded to educating themselves about those different from them, no matter how hard or often we try. The only thing all of us can do is try to project positivity when faced with that hatred, and when it’s safe, to perhaps get the other party to explain the thought process behind their hatred, so that we may better understand it – or provide them an opportunity to see how misplaced it is.

  3. Phyllis Trager/formerly Phyllis Douglas says:

    I have lived in Pacific Palisades for 55+ years and have never in all these years ever heard of a tragic encounter like this that you and your daughter endured. What is even more frightening is the degree of real mental illness and threats you were exposed to!! This kind of hatred is sown early and with added instability becomes even worse. I am so terribly sorry you and especially your daughter endured this; this is NOT Pacific Palisades! And a sobering thought: can you imagine what living with this woman must be like? A gun as a threat and simmering with fury–she’s driving a car.

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