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After the story broke Monday that Westboro Baptist Church members will visit Racine next week, residents swiftly organized counter-protests.
WBC posted on their website that they will make appearances at St. Lucy’s on Sunday and at Horlick High School on Monday.
Counter Protest Westboro in Racine is a grass-roots group on Facebook made up of citizens who aren’t content to sit back and complain. Stephanie Thorne created the page and demonstrated against Westboro when they visited the Milwaukee area a few years ago.
“Let’s get a huge group together, signs made, and show them Racine!!!!” she posted.
Some ideas on how to effectively combat Westboro’s messages include forming a line in front of Westboro and holding up bed sheets to shield parishioners on Sunday and students on Monday.
“(This is) just a large group of people, backs to the protesters, holding up sheets and shielding the parishioners at St. Lucy’s and the students at Horlick from the hate-filled protesters,” Holly Anderson Anderle wrote. “(There will be) no verbal or physical confrontations.”
Operation Screen Out Hate is another event organized Monday on Facebook, this time specifically for the planned Westboro appearance at Horlick on Monday.
Beth Ashton Gilmore created the event because Westboro’s message of hate shouldn’t be broadcast to the students at Horlick.
“I am unwilling for these kids to think that this is what God thinks of them,” she wrote in the introduction to the event. “As a Christian, I believe it is our duty to love ALL PEOPLE (as God calls us to do) and to represent that Biblical truth in response to WBC’s messages of hate.”
Like the idea from Anderle, Gilmore’s group will stand with their backs to WBC members and hold up sheets and signs with positive messages written on them.
“We will hold large sheets and signs telling our kids how awesome they are and play loud positive music to drown out the chants,” she added.
Members of the Combat Veterans of America Motorcycle Association are also planning to protect the parishioners of St. Lucy’s. Steve Jensen said members will meet at Maxine’s Sunday afternoon and then make their way to the church.
“Our goal is to stand between the church and the protestors with our backs to Westboro,” he said.
If the weather cooperates as forecast – 41 degrees as a high – the vets will ride over to St. Lucy’s and gun their engines to drown out whatever Westboro members are saying.
Jensen said he created an event on Facebook to alert other veterans groups and hopes that a large group will also be available Monday to stand between Westboro and the students at Horlick High School.