Saturday, September 26, 2009

CM James, Students, Residents Say: 'Intolerance Unwelcome in BK'


September 25, 2009

Contact: Aja Worthy-Davis at (212) 788-7081

Council Member Letitia James, students and residents say: intolerant views of Westboro not welcome in Brooklyn

(Brooklyn, NY) On September 24, 2009, five members of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), based in Topeka, Kansas picketed behind Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

WBC is headed by Fred Phelps and is known for picketing at public events and funerals, often those peripherally related to the LGBTQ community, or organizations and bodies they feel are sympathetic to LGBTQ-related issues. This has included, in the past, the funerals of fallen soldiers. WBC is not affiliated with any known Baptist sects, and in addition to being condemned by countless organizations, Mr. Phelps and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper have been banned from entering the United Kingdom due to their hateful rhetoric in frequent appearances in British media.

The US-based Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center have identified WBC as a hate group. A small group of WBC members picketed at Brooklyn Technical at the intersection of Lafayette Avenue and S. Elliott Place, and met with protesting residents and Brooklyn Technical students. The WBC picketers held signs that read “G-d Hates You” and “G-d is Your Enemy.” Many protesting students were seen wearing stickers that read “Love Don’t Hate.”

“Fort Greene is a community known for its diversity, and the divisive and outrageous rhetoric of the Westboro Baptist Church could not be more unwelcome. Wherever they go throughout Brooklyn, they will be met by residents ready to reject their message of hate. Homophobia will not be tolerated.” said Council Member James. “Sadly, these church members are getting exactly what they seek, more attention; yet and still, we must continue to protest their extreme religious views and antics.”

The Westboro Baptist Church, who has also displayed hate towards the Jewish community, has placed their picketing schedule on their website- The church plans to picket synagogues Beth Elohim in Park Slope, and Union Temple in Prospect Heights for Yom Kippur. Fortunately, many Brooklyn residents stand opposed to the fanatical, narrow-minded opinions of this church.


The NYT-Local's coverage.
The BK Paper's coverage.

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