East Lansing School, Police and Community Prep for Westboro

By: Alex Goldsmith Email
By: Alex Goldsmith Email

The initial reaction from community members was one ranging from anger to shock to disbelief after finding out about Westboro Baptist Church's plan to come to town to picket outside of East Lansing High School.

East Lansing High School junior Ian Hoopingarner reacted the same way, but then took a step back.

"You have to realize they're looking for a response," said Hoopingarner. "They're looking for us to be standing across the street carrying signs."

East Lansing Police and city officials are encouraging people to stay away from the Kansas church's protest on Thursday.

"They know their message is controversial and they're very good at enticing people and if you show up they'll probably make you mad," said Sgt. Jeff Murphy with the East Lansing Police. "We hope that not too many people show up because that would be a positive thing."

East Lansing City Councillor Nathan Triplett say that Westboro makes a lot of it's money capitalizing on the controversy they generate, suing those who assault them and the city if they can show that it didn't provide adequate protection.

"This is a group that's made it a business model to go from spot to spot raising controversy, trying to get people to overreact so they can engage in litigation against them," said Triplett.

East Lansing High School is routing school buses north on Old Hickory, away from the protest which will take place on Old Hickory near the Burcham intersection. Police will close off Old Hickory at Burcham and prevent people from parking in the south parking lot nearby. The Westboro Baptist Church will have one side of Old Hickory with the street, fencing and police separating them from counter-protestors.

Principal Paula Steele is hoping students will go home peacefully.

"We want to have a safe and orderly dismissal of school," said Steele. "We hope that faculty and staff will help students get on their buses and leave peacefully."

To give people who want to speak out a place to do so, All Saints Episcopal Church and several other groups are planning an off-site counter protest in the church's parking lot. There will be other activities and speakers for forums with East Lansing students.

"Let's make this our own," said Emily Dievendorf, Policy Director for Equality Michigan. "Let's come together as a community and not make what they're doing worse."

Westboro's protest will run from 2:50 - 3:20 after which East Lansing Police are planning to escort the group out of the city.


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  • by Jackie on Nov 23, 2010 at 03:39 PM
    this 'church' is making REAL Christians look real bad...
  • by Anonymous on Nov 18, 2010 at 05:00 PM
    Sadly James they are going to ANY SOLDIERS FUNERAL. not just supposed gay..soldiers. They are just Nut jobs who are allowed to run loose.
  • by Jen Location: Williamston on Nov 18, 2010 at 11:47 AM
    D and John, their reasons for choosing East Lansing are: #1. (per one of their representatives) The ELHS students had the audacity (please read HEAVY sarcasm there) to write them letters after this "church" (cult, IMO) had picketed a GI funeral in the area telling them they thought what Westboro did was wrong and disrespectful. This irritated the wacko den and they decided they needed to show these kids what their message meant....promoting God's word and law (laughable at best from a group that does nothing but promote hate and utter ignorance). #2 I had also read a statement from elsewhere where the group also decided, and partly based on the letters, that ELHS was full of nothing but heathen children lead by Godless parents and an extremely sinful community. They (at least from my thoughts and speculation) I'm sure decided that EL has some money in it so they can have an opportunity to sue for monetary damages and further support their hateful causes. Garbage is all they are.
  • by James Location: Lansing on Nov 18, 2010 at 06:30 AM
    D from Kalamazoo, on Wikipedia it says: "they travel nationally to picket the funerals of gay victims of murder, gay-bashing or people who have died from complications relating to AIDS" In addition to their hatred of gays, they hold signs that read: "Thank God for IED's", "Thank God for 9-11" "God is angry everyday" etc. They picket funerals of fallen soldiers with signs that say "Thank God for dead soldiers" etc. They have been around since 1955 and have approx. 71 members(that's gotta tell you something when you've been around that long, and have just 71 followers which is comprised mostly of the leader's family members). They twist the Bible around and create their own interpretations of it, and then use those interpretations as justification of hatred towards pretty much everyone and everything that isn't like them. These people are very sick and dangerous in my opinion. They will do every thing they can to incite violence in order to fund their cross country hatred.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 17, 2010 at 09:42 PM
    D, YOU have never heard of the Westboro baptist church????? They go and protest at soldiers funerals, holding up TERRIBLE signs and trash soldiers, God and Americans. They are a VILE group of individuals , and they even have small children holding disgusting signs.Its at the Supreme court right now we are waiting on a decision to advise if this will be considered freedom of speech..where it is more like HATE speech.Keeping a watch on how the supreme court of the U.S. will rule on this one.
  • by D Location: kalamazoo on Nov 17, 2010 at 05:22 PM
    This is ridiculous. I Googled "Westboro" but didn't click the link after I saw the address of their homepage. This article is the first I've heard of this, anyone know why they chose this school?
  • by James Location: Lansing on Nov 17, 2010 at 11:32 AM
    LBRTY: What they want is for people to violent against them. This is the reason why the police do not want people to go. HOWEVER, The absolute best thing to do is to show these mentally ill hate mongers that we as a community do not tolerate this kind of thing. WE ALL NEED TO SHOW UP to send a message to these freaks that what they are doing is WRONG. If you go, make sure to be part of the peaceful rally that will be held nearby. The key thing is to not fall into their trap and start violent actions against them. This is how they fund themselves--they cause people to turn violent, and then they sue the police for not protecting them. JASON, they need a police escort with protection. Without it, they would never be able to get their hate messages out.. Also, they do give a sick, hate filled reason why they are coming to East Lansing if you have the nerve and can stand visiting their website. My comment would get deleted here if I typed the website url, so just Google "Westboro".
  • by Anonymous on Nov 17, 2010 at 07:41 AM
    I really hope people just stay away and ignore these Wacko's. Giving them an audience just ligitimizes them.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 17, 2010 at 06:24 AM
    The last town that the westboro hate mongers were in, 1/2 the towns folk showed up holding american flags and had a stero sound system that played Patriotic Music the entire time . They held up a GIANT American flag so the family at the funeral wouldnt have to see this group of thugs. The town needs to stick together and stand stong, Hold up your american flags, and be peaceful, Just block them from the family.. Soon the westboro nut cases will go away , when they see they are not getting the reaction they want. One town they they were in , some who the westboro church's tires all went flat, "all on their own" they hopped in their vehicle and hobbled out of town on their rims, because nobody in the entire place would help them fix their tires. Hmm Do ya thin they will get the message soon?
  • by Jonesey Location: Lansing on Nov 17, 2010 at 06:14 AM
    Westboro is a bunch of loonies. What reasoning can they possibly have to protest/picket at a high school. Are they against learning? I just don't get it. The article doesn't mention anything about their motives.
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