The Westboro Baptist Church arrived before dawn this morning with the intention of protesting Meade Senior High School. The Supreme Court has ruled that they have the right to protest. And the more than 500 people who showed up to give the Westboro Baptist Church a dose of their own medicine, also have that right.
We arrived shortly before 6:00am and spoke with Anne Arundel County School spokesman, Bob Mosier who said that there would be no school buses in the area this morning. Delaying school was not an option due to the complexities of the bus schedule. “We did a dry run yesterday afternoon to make sure we could get the students to school using an alternate route without too much delay.” said Mosier. “We had a few glitches, but they were all worked out.”
Anne Arundel County police were out in force not knowing what to expect. There was surveillance from the air in the department’s helicopter and drug and explosive sniffing dogs searched the area before most people arrived. The police department did an outstanding job of keeping the two opposing factions separate. The Westboro Baptist Church, led by leader Shirley Phelps-Roper, was restricted to a barricaded section on the south side of Disney Road where it intersects with Route 175. Counter protestors were secured behind barricades on the north side of the intersection and overflowed into the CVS pharmacy parking lot.
The 5 members of the Westboro Baptist Church arrived right on time with little fanfare. They unpacked their signs and began singing, and dancing on American Flags thrown on the ground drawing jeers from the counter protestors. At 7:15am, they packed up and were gone and were given a resounding send off from the counter protestors.
The morning was charged with emotion as the sights and sounds indicate but overall it was a peaceful (yet disruptive) start to the day and any message that the Westboro Baptist Church had planned on delivering was overcome with support for both homosexuals and our troops! There were approximately 100 students in the crowd who delayed their start of school, several church groups, plenty of families of military members, and even State Senator Bryan Simonaire was in the crowd with his daughter.
Credit must be given to the Anne Arundel County Public Schools, the Anne Arundel County Police Department, and the Ft. Meade Police for taking the steps to insure that there were no injuries or altercations.
Did you attend the protest? What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment!
To see all of the photos we took this morning, visit our gallery. (Some of the photos may not be suitable for all readers due to language on protest signs and a few “props”). We also took video and it will be posted shortly.
For another point of view, please read Christiaan Conover’s blog and coverage.
If you have images online, please leave a comment with the URL and we will edit this post and link to you.