I arrived to my office this morning around 9:30am only to be greeted by loads of policemen, security guards, barricades, and people from the school next door mulling around waiting. As I told you in this post, the Westboro Baptist Church (a fringe, extremist hate group and cult in no way affiliated with the Christian denomination also known as ‘Baptist’) was scheduled to make a 10am appearance at the Jewish Day School my church shares a parking lot with.
I’d come prepared. Armed with my digital camera, I made my way across the lot and was greeted with a smile by one of the security guards working for the school – a very nice man. I told him how sorry I was they were having to deal with this today, and that’s when I heard the news: the Westboro group probably wasn’t going to make it to our location. They’d run into a problem.
Apparently, someone had slashed the tires on their rental car at the earlier stop they’d made. They couldn’t leave until Enterprise (the rental car company that promises “We’ll get you there … even if you’re a hate group!”) brought them another vehicle. That delay had pushed Westboro’s schedule back meaning the Brandeis Hillel Day School wasn’t going to have to deal with them. Trust me – the nice folks at Brandeis didn’t mind and I was relieved for them, but I still wanted to get some footage of the circus.
The next stop on Westboro’s schedule was downtown at 225 Bush Street – the headquarters of Jewish News Weekly of Northern California – so I, along with my friends Genny and Nathaniel who’d also come to watch the show, hopped in my car and made the trek downtown to Bush Street to observe the protest.
We arrived and after waiting for a few minutes the protestors showed up. Here’s part of what we witnessed:
That’s a video from my little digicam. Genny also shot some footage with a professional quality camera she was operating. Regular readers know we have a little film project we’re working on in our college group – if the footage turns out ok, we’ll probably use it for that.
We actually interviewed one of the young ladies from Westboro using Genny’s camera. The girl was quite polite to us since we were being polite to her, but would fire back with vitrol to the others on the sidewalk if mocked. I’m hoping the audio of our interview with her turns out ok as her comments gave me quite a bit of insight into their theology, but I’m a little worried it may have been too loud around us. We haven’t been able to check yet … we’ll see.
Here are a few pictures I snapped:
This guy arrived early around the same time we did. He’s planning to follow the Westboro group to each location they go to today. Before they arrived, I asked him to pose for a picture with my favorite sign and he obliged.
And then they showed up. There were only a total of five protestors from the WBC along for the ride on this trip. An older lady, a middle-aged couple, and a couple of girls in their twenties.
This is the youngest Westboro protestor we saw today. She looks like she’s barely in her twenties.
I felt sorry for the police officers having to deal with this all day. I spoke briefly with one of them. He informed me that somewhere in the area a member of the WBC was secretly filming the entire protest just in case someone assaulted one of the hate group members. He told me if a WBC member were assaulted, the police would be forced to take action immediately so that the group could press charges and file a lawsuit against the attacker. If the police were slow to act, the entire ordeal would be caught on tape and the videotape used as evidence to sue, not only the attacker, but also the city. The WBC is well-known for filing frivolous lawsuits.
Police had to move in with metal barricades as the exchange between the protestors and the citizens on the sidewalk became heated.
One member of the WBC wore an Israeli flag covered in blood around their feet making sure to step on it regularly.
Notice one of her signs says “God Sent the Quake” - if you’re wondering what this group’s take on the Hatian earthquake is, click here. Pat Robertson would be proud.
This man was by far the loudest of the bunch.
To say the least, today has been a very interesting day.