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DC high school students overtake Westboro Baptist Church protest

Westboro Baptist protesters were surprised to discover over 2,000 Wilson High students and supporters directly in front of the school building.
Westboro Baptist protesters were surprised to discover over 2,000 Wilson High students and supporters directly in front of the school building.
Photo courtesy of Armando Trull

Monday, June 9, 2014, Westboro Baptist Church members, known for their public crusade against gay people at military funerals and other events, held a protest outside northwest Washington, DC’s Wilson High School, according to reports from NBC Washington. The Church claims that tolerance of homosexuality invokes the wrath of God and this wrath is currently being hurled at the United States for straying from God’s path. The protest arose due to the school’s second annual LGBT pride event, which took place last week. At this year’s event Principal Pete Cahall came out to the student body as gay.

The protest took place about a half-mile away from the school and Westboro’s turnout was small with only around a dozen or so people present. Students from Wilson High School lined the sidewalk outside of the school for a peaceful counter-protest. Joining them were several hundred community members and students from other nearby schools, who were stationed across the street running up and down the block with a rainbow flag and holding signs that read, "Love always wins."

Students, educators and community members were aware the protest would be taking place. The Church’s website posted, “You boast of being the first public high school in Washington, DC and perhaps the nation to host an ‘LBGT pride event’ when you should be hanging your heads in shame for such a thing. You celebrate and glory in your sin…You are incapable of being ashamed of your sin.”

Westboro Baptist protesters were surprised to discover over 2,000 Wilson High students and supporters directly in front of the school building. The students held signs that read "We are Wilson High School.” Members of Wilson High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance, who planned the counter-protest, say they were overwhelmed by the amount of support they received from the surrounding community.

Rachel Hockenbarger, Westboro Baptist Church member, called Cahall’s coming out “shameful.” Today’s protest is just one of 12 Westboro has planned for the DC area. The church will also protest outside the White House, the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery and other sites.