In the maelstrom of sadness, anger, and disbelief, two groups have made the town of Newton, Connecticut a target in response to Friday’s Sandy Hook school shooting. The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) has reportedly planned to picket the funerals and/or the town. Another group is planning a “human wall” to block the picketers from harassing anyone, and from anyone seeing the picketers.
On their infamous webpage, WBC has a video called “God Sent the Shooter.” The video explains, via Biblical verses, WBC believes God is punishing America by ‘sending’ shooters to schools to kill innocent people. In the background of the narrating male voice, over pictures of the perpetrators and scenes from school shootings, a chorus sings, “God sent the shooter / God sent the shooter.” There is discussion, perpetrated by WBC member Tweets, WBC is planning to picket the funerals and/or the town of Newton, Connecticut. WBC pickets funerals of soldiers, those who died from AIDS, and anyone else they deem evil.
But a group of people is responding to the picket threats by planning a “human wall” to block out both the picketer’s view of the funerals, and the mourner’s sight of WBC. Their Facebook page reads, “… the hate group ‘Westboro Baptist Church’ has released information that they are planning to picket the funerals of the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut… There are several things you can do to help stop this devastating action to inflict more pain on these parents, families and friends of these precious victims. If you live near Newtown, Connecticut organize a ‘Human Wall’ to peacefully block this hate group from getting anywhere near these funerals. Efforts like this have been successful in the past…” More information can be found HERE (if the link is unsuccessful, search “help victims of Newtown Connecticut” on Facebook).
The threat may be an attempt for Westboro Baptist to obtain publicity; it may be truth. Just in case, the “Human Wall” idea is fast growing across the World Wide Web. The church picketed the funeral of slain gay man Matthew Shepard in 1998; friends of Shepard’s wore white robes and large, handmade wings to spread and cover the group’s picket area whenever WBC members began shouting and holding up signs. The WBC picket group has led to the creation of other groups whose sole purpose is to counter-picket; they stand between the WBC clan and the funerals and memorials.
The WBC threat has also led to a petition to the White House, asking officials to legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group. At this writing there are over 167,000 signatures. You can sign the petition HERE.
Perhaps giving ink and time to Westboro Baptist may seem counter-productive; after all, the purpose of threatening a picket is to gain attention. Westboro Baptist Church is, apparently, a vessel for much hate and anger. But so was Adam Lanza; just ask the Sandy Hook elementary school survivors.
Judith Yates lectures on school violence education. Click HERE to book
Credit: photo of J Yates
Credit: photo of WBC