So the nut jobs (all 5 of them) from the Westboro Baptist Church showed up for their scheduled protests in Brooklyn today.
They are a pathetic sight, but prove how a small group of people can cause such a ruckus around the United States.
Following YWN breaking the story last week that there would be protests held, local residents handed out flyers regarding a “Nazi protest” which was being held outside Yeshiva Chaim Berlin, and Yeshiva Torah Temimah, and called for a counter demonstration. NYS Assemblyman Dov Hikind vowed to counter-protest as well.
For the most part the protests / counter-protests were uneventful, besides for one or two people (including Dov Hikind) who rushed the group to try and grab their highly offensive signs. The counter-protest at all three locations were attended by Jews and non-Jews. Hikind told YWN that he was overcome with anger after seeing the signs which said “Thank God For Dead Soldiers”.
When the protest outside Chaim Berlin Elementary School was over, the group was escorted by officers of the NYPD’s 70 Precinct to their vehicle, and kept the crowd away from the vehicle and the group. Besides for their slashed tires (no tears here), they were able to drive away unscathed by the screaming crowd of counter-protesters. They were seen a short while later getting their flat fixed at a local tire-repair shop.
“The only thing I’m sad about, is that all four of their tires weren’t slashed”, Dov Hikind told YWN.
However, what bothers this writer is two things.
Although we live in a great land which allows us freedom of speech, it is totally unacceptable to permit such a group to stage a protest directly outside the windows of classrooms packed with children with the words “Your Rabbi is a ____”(obscenity not fit to publish on YWN). Why must children be forced to read such a hateful slur? Is this not a hate crime? If that statement was found graffitied onto a wall near a Yeshiva, the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit would probably investigate it as a Hate Crime. Why not now? In fact, the Supreme Court is reviewing a similar case by these same nutjobs where they picketed a soldier’s funeral with the placards “God Loves Dead Soldiers.” I sincerely hope the Supreme Court has the wisdom to understand that this is HATE speech not FREE speech.
That being said, the greatest Chillul Hashem in this writer’s view was the foul language directed at the group by members of none other than the Frum community. Everyone has their own Rov to advise them if they should, or should not attend a counter-protest. But especially with TV cameras rolling, yarmulka-wearing Jews should not make a Chillul Hashem by lowering themselves to the protesters level and using foul language. Perhaps, Councilman Greenfield’s approach would have been better: he suggested simply ignoring the handful of protesters out of concern that this is exactly what was going to happen.
Finally, these two outstanding yeshivas should be commended for keeping all their students inside their buildings, and forbidding them to join the counter protest.
Some facts about these crazies:
The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is an Independent Baptist church and hate group. It is located in a residential neighborhood on the west side of Topeka about three miles west of the Kansas State Capitol. It is headed by Fred Phelps and consists mostly of members of his large family; in 2007, it had 71 members.
Phelps and his family picket approximately six locations every day, including many in Topeka and some events farther afield. On Sundays, up to 15 churches may receive pickets. By their own count, WBC has conducted over 30,000 pickets, in all 50 states, in over 500 cities and towns. Their travel budget exceeds $200,000 annually. As of March 2009 the church claims to have participated in over 41,000 protests in over 650 cities since 1991.
YWN PHOTO LINK: Click HERE for photos by Hillel Engel.
YWN MOBILE VIDEO LINK: Click HERE to watch video (from a mobile device only).
(Yehuda Drudgestein – YWN)