Protesting the protest

Albany High.jpg

Albany High -- one of the sites of the planned protests.

The infamous Westboro Baptist Church is planning a couple of protests in Albany next month, according to its web site.* WBC is described as "virulently homophobic" by the Anti-Defamation League and is categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The morning of March 6, WBC is planning protests outside Albany High School and the SUNY headquarters downtown. Both protests seem to be motivated by the group's continuing campaign against gays. It also seems to have a thing for Barack Obama -- it recently protested at the inauguration with signs that read "God Hates Obama." The group has also gotten attention for protesting at the funerals of US soldiers. As you might imagine, the group has a long Wikipedia entry.

A local nonviolent counter-protest is being organized on Facebook. From the event page:

There is a planning meeting this Sunday to coordinate a response plan to this "visit" I encourage everyone to attend so that we highlight what a welcoming community Albany is:

at First Congregational Church in Albany (UCC)



405 Quail Street - parking lot at the rear of the building.

THIS COMING SUNDAY: February 8th - 7pm

Contact Rev. Tony Green for further information


*We've decided not to link to their web site.

(Thanks, Summer)


"We're not gonna protest! We're not gonna protest!"

I gotta assume there's some sort of carbon monoxide leak at the Westboro Baptist Church and all of these anti-gay protesters are brain damaged. It's the only logical explanation.

The WBC makes me sick.

They aren't just homophobic, they're totally insane.
From the ADL website:
"...the WBC has continued to protest at the funerals of American soldiers, and is now also focusing its attention on young victims of untimely deaths. On April 13, 2008, the group posted a message on one its Websites lauding a father’s murder of his three young children, who ranged in age from 2 to 6, in a Baltimore hotel. This followed the group’s picketing of the funeral of five members of a Baltimore, Maryland-area family who were killed in an Ohio car accident. Among the deceased were children aged 10, 7, and 8 weeks. In both cases, the WBC praised the deaths as God’s punishment of the city of Baltimore for a recent legal judgment against the church that had occurred there."

Hmm. And for those of us *not* 'of faith' who might wish to protest?

It's not carbon monoxide or lead paint, Pantaloons, it's inbreeding - most of the members of this cult are related. Anyone planning to counter protest should be careful, because as near as I can tell they finance themselves with litigation.

My only advice to counter-protesters is to BE CAREFUL. The WBC loves media attention (obviously) and will say and do just about anything to get it and making counter-protesters look bad is a bonus.

@Ewan: I would join up with an organized counter-protest regardless of faith, many religious leaders have experience with crowd control from events such as protests. Also, Rev Green may know of other counter-protest groups, so it can't hurt to call him.

Ewan, we'll be the ones holding up the signs that say, "There is no God... and he thinks f@gs are OK!"

My God loves Obama.

Wait... wtf do those WBC loons think they're going to accomplish?

Never mind. Stupid question.

I don't think you need to be of faith to attend. That organizational meeting was only set up to help decide a strategy of sorts. This is not really about faith; it's a human rights issue. The facebook event page contains a lot more information than what was posted here.

Ok, a lot of people probably won't like me saying this, but I think counterprotesting is a bad, bad idea. The Phelps gang feeds off people's reactions to them. In many cases, almost literally. They'll often goad people into actually touching them during protests, and then they sue. It's helped fund the group. Papa Phelps himself is a former prominent civil rights attorney.

That said, I cannot recommend enough the BBC documentary on WBC, "The Most Hated Family in America." It's a must-see. The American one can't hold a candle to it.

I can think of better ways to waste my time... Trimming nails... sorting CD's... Arranging the colored toothpicks in my colored toothpick container...

Oh great... THOSE guys are coming here.

If you have a Protest and no one shows up against them is it really a Protest ?

I agree 100% with Jess! In my opinion, the best policy is to totally ignore them! Do not acknowledge them in any manner! Do not counter protest! Do not provoke them! Do not write them! Do not make signs! Do not write letters to the Newspaper about them!! Do not go on television or radio! STAY TOTALLY AWAY! DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! PRETEND THEY ARE INVISIBLE!!

If somehow all of the members of the community, including Radio Station, Television Stations, Newspaper, Churches, Civic Organization, Fire and Police Departments can be brought together in a unified front and agree not to acknowledge them in any fashion! Do not mention anything about them!! Locate them in a area that limits their exposure to anyone! Do not even monitor them!! What you will end up with is a group of individuals waving and yelling at nothing!!


Sweet, I'll be there taking pictures, thanks for the free Flickr traffic guys!

Benjamin and Jess do have a point. However, the difficulty lies in the fact that no matter how much we want to ignore the situation, it will not go away. They will be staked out in front of Albany High just in time for the students to arrive for morning class, and then they're going to be downtown at the SUNY offices just in time for morning rush hour.
I think the purpose of the organized counter-protest is to ensure that the situation remains peaceful, and also to show them that they will not be getting the "confrontation" that they are most likely looking for.
I think someone mentioned a "silent barrier", where people stand in a line or circle and shield the hatemongers from the students. The counter-protesters will remain silent. It's an interesting idea, in any case.

When I lived in New Paltz, the Phelps folks came to town and were met by a mass group of people singing the Beatles' "All You Need is Love."

In response, a 5-year-old Phelps girl stomped on a flag, spit at people and yelled 'Thank God for 9-11."

I saw these turds when they came to New Paltz a few years back. If your looking another reason NOT to go let me tell you; there is nothing more heart wrenching than seeing a 5 year old girl hold up a sign that says "God Hates Fags" or "Thank God for September 11th." It's like watching child abuse occur before your eyes, with you unable to do anything about it.

WBC protested in front of my college when we performed The Laramie Project in 2003 and sent hate faxes threatening death, yes death faxes, to our president and department head. The day after they protested the school they protested in front of the only Catholic church in the area because the Church "tolerates" gays. Seeing these people standing there holding those signs and knowing they really believe hate is the answer was the most upsetting thing I've ever experienced in my life.

These guys are so insane, I almost want to watch them for the pure novelty factor. Like those trained dogs at the circus who are dressed up as bride and groom and walk down a make shift isle on their hind legs. Ha! Where's my camera?

Part of me wants to make signs like "Jesus could have been gay, who knows?" and "God Hates Ferrets (Lev 11:30-31)"

Another part of me wants to just take a bunch of pictures.

A bigger part of me wants to petition the local news outlets to not cover this event.

This is a great youtube clip from the west wing, from when the president uses biblical quotes to stop on a bible banger's argument.
It's a must see:

Also, does anyone know where I can find the BBC documentary that Jess mentioned?

@Irina - My boyfriend found it online somewhere. I'll have to ask him.

There usto be this AWESOME parody site, God Hates Figs. It was made up to look exactly like the Phelp's website, but changed all the references to figs. They even took the time to find all these real biblical quotes, that when read by an overly literal turd, could make one think that God really had some serious problems with figs. I can't seem to find it now (it might be gone), but if anyone can find it I'd love the link.

I just might attend: but I want the biggest sign, with a huge arrow poited the the WBC

Here's the link for the BBC documentary.

"The Most Hated Family in America"

A theater here in Fort Lauderdale just got written up in The Daily Beast for inviting Fred Phelps to protest their production of "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told," which is a parody of the Book of Genesis. Someone at the theater told Westboro they would all get a lot of media attention...which would help the theater sell tickets. Shirley Phelps Roper said a lot of their protests are generated by the actual people being protested, for this reason.


For anyone wishing to counter protest but can't on the 6th or think ignoring WBC is the best option, how about making posters that say things like love, peace, equality, etc and putting them on lamp posts and utility poles in the surrounding areas? It gets the message to WBC that we don't share his views and we don't want to use hate to run our city and our lives.

I think that's a great idea Carrie. We need to make the WBC realize that while we may not be able to make them go away, their message is lost in Albany. I am proud of our diversity and tolerance, and while we are not without our flaws, Phelps' gang's preachings will fall largely on deaf ears here.

I got another idea for anyone that wants to do something but not protest. How about a rally on the capital? I'm actually surprised WBC isn't stopping there even though Patterson said he wants all out-of-state marriages recognized in NY.

Thank you for posting this. Someone else pointed out my misstep in noting "people of faith" --- My error --- This isn't about faith, it's about JUSTICE. It doesn't matter to me who gets involved - spiritual orientation isn't an issue for me or my community. Phelp's needs to know there are communties of faith that believe in love and are quite happy welcoming all people no matter who they are or where they are on this journey in life.
There will be a vigil in front of Albany City Hall on March 5th, 5pm, to show solidarity and unity as a community in Albany. Then a counter-protest on March 6th at 7am in front of Albany High School.

Can we get about 3,000 people together, then just sit on the sidewalks around Albany High and the SUNY HQ before they get there? If they don't have a place to protest...

Thought I would bump this story because there's a bit of an update. Apparently there are certain measures being taken (not sure what) to prevent Phelps from coming to Albany High, so nothing will be going on there. They still plan to protest in front of the SUNY building at 353 Broadway at around 8:15am, and this is the encouraged location if you plan to show up to counter-protest, or watch, or whatever.

The following excerpts have been taken from the facebook group regarding the event:

"Later in the morning, around 9:15am, Phelps has stated he will be at the very busy intersection of Fuller Road and Washington Avenue Extension. This is a dangerous intersection without sidewalk space and it is discouraged that people gather to protest Phelps at this location. Instead, students at the University at Albany uptown campus have organized a Unity Brunch:

UNITY BRUNCH at the University at Albany uptown campus, 10am
This brunch is open to the community for people to gather and express their feelings and ideas about community activism, and ways we can strengthen our bonds of unity.

Also, on Thursday March 5th, at 5pm, there will be a vigil at the Albany city hall. Please bring your own candle if possible.

One last disclaimer: Please remember that Phelps makes his money by suing if he gets attacked. Please watch the videos so you know all the horrible things he will be saying about your loved ones and remember if you retaliate with violence that he is going to be saying horrible things to someone else's loved ones."

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