Occupying the Westboro Baptist Church's Protest at the TicketCity Bowl in Fair Park

Categories: News

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Photos by Stephen Masker
We have a whole slide show from today's doings right here.
Football fans who came to Fair Park for the Houston-Penn State match-up at the Cotton Bowl couldn't help but see the sideshow: As promised, the Westboro Baptist Church showed up at the TicketCity Bowl to remind sports fans that God hates them, Joe Paterno, the Pope, gays, Obama ... pretty much everyone. But Fred Phelps' clan, which has added a "God Sent the Drought" sign to its ever-expanding inventory, wasn't alone: They were met by around 40 counter-protesters, some from Occupy Dallas splinter group OccupyNow. The counter-protesters greeted the WBC's infamous "God Hates Fags" signs with a few of their own. There was also some light heckling and a little same-sex heavy petting.

"We're out here to protest hate in all its forms," said 21-year-old Kooper Caraway of OccupyNow.

"And we're here to draw attention to hate-mongering," said Whytney Blythe, 22, also of OccupyNow, "Which is part of what's perpetuating the issues we're facing today. Living in a fear-based system is unhealthy for everyone. And it's also important to be at the protests against Westboro to show support for the victims that they might target."

The WBC, always ones to keep their hatred current, even have a brand-new poster: a picture of the Guy Fawkes mask many Occupy and Anonymous protesters wear, with a target drawn over it. It reads: "God's Target."

"These Occupy people, the 99 percent, God hates them," 27-year-old Cary Fritz of Westboro Baptist told Unfair Park. "Anonymous even tried to hack our website," he added, sounding a little aggrieved.

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The WBC members stood in a barricaded area, while the counter-protesters stood about 10 feet away, also barricaded in, at least at first. A guy wearing a bushy fake beard and mirrored shades -- he would only give his name as "A.B." -- carried a huge sign that read "Occupy the WBC." At one point he began shouting at the Westboro group through a megaphone.

"Shirley!" he said to Shirley Phelps-Roper, WBC's spokesperson. "We're a little upset that all the cute girls are facing away from us. Can you get your daughters to turn around?"

As he spoke, the Beastie Boys' "Hey Ladies" started to blast from the speakers near his feet. "This goes out to the Westboro girls!" he announced. The Westboro girls ignored him. Occupy The WBC, a Houston-based group not affiliated with Occupy Dallas or OccupyNow, plans to follow the WBC around the country staging counter-protests with loud music, gay make-outs and "recitations of graphic homoerotic novels" at every stop, A.B. told us.

"I'm not gonna say I hate them," said Felicia Wilson, a Richardson resident who was standing nearby dressed in a pink beehive wig, copious Mardi Gras jewelry and sweatpants that read "Boom Boom" on the rump. She waved a sign that read "Fred Phelps Left His Panties At My House." A pair of skull-and-cross bones-patterned panties were stapled to the sign. "Because they're promoting hate. But I hate the way they are."

"It's sickening," added her 19-year-old son Ashton.

"God made everybody," Felicia added. "Gay, straight, polka-dotted, striped, God made ya."

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Watching the dueling protests from a few feet away were several officers from the Dallas Police Department's Criminal Intelligence Unit. Detective Jeff Burge walked over to the counter-protesters to remind them to stay in their fenced-off area.

"If you guys come out, they're gonna come out," he said, gesturing over at the WBC. "And then there'll be an issue."

Sporting a purple "God Hates Fags" sweatshirt, Shirley Phelps-Roper estimated the WBC has staged some 48,000 protests in the last 21 years and said they make it down to Dallas about half a dozen times a year. We asked: Why exactly were they picketing the TicketCity Bowl?

"Hon, where should we be if not here?" Phelps-Roper said. She informed us that God sent "raping coaches" as a punishment to the United States, then, for reasons that weren't clear to us, delved into a long tangent about a woman in Houston who ate her baby. "We picketed that too," she said. The counter-protesters, she added, "are just trying to distract you."

"Tell me about God," Hailey Evans of OccupyNow said sweetly to an older WBC member, the man in mirrored shades holding that sign that read "Pope Joe Pa" and featured a drawing of one stick figure standing behind his bent-over stick-figure buddy.

"The God that created you is the same one who's gonna send you to Hell," the man barked back. Evans turned to a friend standing beside her. In unison, they shrugged, then burst into a loud rendition of AC/DC's "Highway To Hell." They linked arms and walked off, giggling. Nearby, two more female members of OccupyNow stood directly in front of the WBC and started kissing, something the church members tried to ignore with varying degrees of success.

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"Shirley, it's good to see you!" A.B. shouted from a few feet away. "You look terrible!" Almost despite herself, Phelps-Roper smiled. A man waved a sign at her that read, "We're All Children of God -- Even Small-Minded Bigots."

"I think I've seen you before," one OccupyNow member said conversationally through the megaphone, pointing at a WBC-er. "Weren't you at that strip club? Don't act like you don't know." OccupyNow started up a chant of "Shame! Shame! Shame!", which soon turned into numerous other slogans, among them "Thank God for gay porn!" and "Whose butt? My butt!," which was accompanied with exuberant dry-humping.

"We're showcasing how absurd they are," OccupyNow's Whytney Blythe told us. "They're almost like satire."

Finally, it came time for the WBC to leave. One member charged out of the barricaded-in area to complain that she couldn't get out of the barricaded-in area. "The protesters, they converged on me," she complained to DPD Det. Vincent Lee. "This never used to happen."

Lee approached the counter-protesters, who were by now ringing the WBC's fenced-in area. "I'm going to ask you to stand back and let them be escorted to their cars," he said.

"Can we escort them?" an OccupyNow member piped up helpfully.

With the officers standing by, the WBC rushed single-file out of the fence and towards the parking lot. OccupyNow followed them, chanting "Fascists go home!" and "Show me what an asshole looks like! This is what an asshole looks like!" They waved and cheered as the WBC piled into a dark blue van and two minivans and peeled out of the parking lot, fast.

Don't forget: They return to Cowboys Stadium January 6 for the Cotton Bowl Classic. Because God clearly hates the Dallas Cowboys.

My Voice Nation Help
58 comments
8811081
8811081

Westboro Baptist Church spreads its hate through picketing inour streets, provoking attacks, with abusive language and flag desecration,attempting to create a confrontation. This is not a church, this is a hategroup.  This is not about protesting,freedom, or God. They are in it for the money and the press; this is a familylaw firm. They are not a "church." It is a scam. They go afteranything that can get them in the news. This is a family of lawyers using this“god hates you” thing to make money. It is time for this scam and the hate toend.

Thechurch has received money from lawsuits and legal fees. For example, they suedthe city of Topeka several times in the 1990s. WBC received $16,500, and ispursuing another $100,000, in legal fees for a case won in court. The WBC isconsidered a nonprofit organization by the federal government, and is thereforeexempt from paying taxes!

Phelps-Roperof the Westboro Baptist Church is shownadmitting on camera that her oldest son was born out of wedlock. HypocriticalPhelps-Roper's vocal condemnation on strangers having sexual congress outsideof marriage while she herself was guilty of the same. They are NOT what theysay they are!!

8811081
8811081

Westboro Baptist Church spreads its hate through picketing inour streets, provoking attacks, with abusive language and flag desecration,attempting to create a confrontation. This is not a church, this is a hategroup.  This is not about protesting,freedom, or God. They are in it for the money and the press; this is a familylaw firm. They are not a "church." It is a scam. They go afteranything that can get them in the news. This is a family of lawyers using this“god hates you” thing to make money. It is time for this scam and the hate toend.

Thechurch has received money from lawsuits and legal fees. For example, they suedthe city of Topeka several times in the 1990s. WBC received $16,500, and ispursuing another $100,000, in legal fees for a case won in court. The WBC isconsidered a nonprofit organization by the federal government, and is thereforeexempt from paying taxes!

Phelps-Roperof the Westboro Baptist Church is shownadmitting on camera that her oldest son was born out of wedlock. HypocriticalPhelps-Roper's vocal condemnation on strangers having sexual congress outsideof marriage while she herself was guilty of the same. They are NOT what theysay they are!!

Liz Salander
Liz Salander

I get it...I get it...this is two extreme ends of the spectrum fighting to make our First Amendment rights stronger in America.  Go WBC!  Go Occupy!  Say the craziest thing you can and try to get away with it!

Кабель HDMI
Кабель HDMI

What we really need to do is stop giving them so much attention like this. Just fuels them to keep going.

TDKS FBT
TDKS FBT

About time someone started counter-protesting - good on you Occupy!

MoronDog
MoronDog

Why didnt someone protest the existence of another stupid, pointless bowl game?

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Those WBC folks are THE devil.......that incendiary sort of hate is what envelops nations with fear mongering, and silence.  I come in here all the time and yuck it up, but this is vile filth they are spreading!  Methinks a fourth grade educated flock is NO flock. Crazy right wing freaks. And I'm way right wing......but they are just nuts. NUTS. 

ps- This is what is wrong with this country-this zealot, EXTREME wing wing BS.  Thanks for ruining America for all of us!

BB
BB

Kids in Berkley get pepper sprayed in the face for peacefully protesting but WBC goes on without incident. I don't wish ill but a counter protest aginst WBC would've been fun.

Kenneth_pesce
Kenneth_pesce

It is horrible the WBC is what they are. Tough for the cops to have to protect them. Cops did a good job. Someone needs to go to the church during their service and protest there hypocrisy

Paul
Paul

I get it now ... it is the Ticket City Bowl at the Cotton Bowl; and, the Cotton Bowl Classic at Jerry World ... because I was all confused that there was a game at the Cotton Bowl and the Cotton Bowl is not played in the Cotton Bowl.

I'm still waiting on the "Depends 500 at Texas Motor Speedway ... So You Don't Have to Race to the Bathroom" ...

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I always find it fun to see how old testament shirley and her mutant clan get w/ people. Instead of trying to be confrontational, why not try the christ-like way of doing things, which is to say properly witness to those whom you disagree w/ in a polite manner.

Ed D.
Ed D.

Anonymous tried to hack their website? No, when Anonymous tries to hack your website, they hack your website.

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

I love love love the mixed couple kissing.  The only thing that would have made it better is if one of them were Jewish and wore a yamaka (sp?)...

Ben
Ben

Just when everyone thought his Lone Star Adventure on Noodling at Lake Tawakoni could not be topped, he sets the bar even higher at the Cotton Bowl Petting Zoohttp://i38.photobucket.com/alb...

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

What if Westboro Baptist Church protested something and nobody paid any attention? Nobody counter-protested? Nobody reported on it, filmed it? Clucked their tongues over it or even realized it was there?

Va4vi
Va4vi

I don't see much difference between the media, general populace and Westboro Baptist.  The articles of the media, most of the comenters and the signs carried by Westboro Baptist say the same things.

Skip Shot
Skip Shot

I was going to go down and protest Sanduskey coaching Penn State but then I learned he's now doing all his coaching for State Pen.

ROCK ME!!!!!!

MaryWaterton
MaryWaterton

God hates homosexuality. Read the Bible. It's in there.

On the other hand, Satan loves homosexuality. His final destination is the Lake of Fire and if you follow him, then you will end up there too.

"The Son of Man (Jesus) shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do INIQUITY; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13:41-42)

phe_75034
phe_75034

I still think we ought to ignore these hate-filled charlatans, and let them rot in their own irrelevance. But, if you gotta cover them, this is the way to do it. Can we get more pics of the counter-protestors? Specifically, their signs, but the girls kissing will do too.

Fwilson_1
Fwilson_1

and the pink wigged one will be there too,lol

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

I love how in the top photo there are multiple "shockers" being given

Bob
Bob

Awesome reporting. Would have gotten more ratings if you had published pics of the two girls kissing!

Stesha
Stesha

I was wondering if I could get the picture of me and my girlfriend. (Stesha Tacker)Our names were written down by a guy who said it would be in the dallas observerThankyou,Stesha

Tina Gonzalez
Tina Gonzalez

Wonderful job to the writer Anna!!! I'm glad to see these counter protesters out there... Ignoring the problem is submitting your self as part of the problem... Equal rights!!!

Tina Gonzalez
Tina Gonzalez

Wonderful job to the writer Anna!!! I'm glad to see these counter protesters out there... Ignorining is submitting your self as part of the problem... Equal right!!!

Ron Donaghe
Ron Donaghe

I suppose counter protestors might as well have some fun, but really, WBC should just be ignored. 

Duder121
Duder121

There are interesting ways to report about religious fundamentalists, Anna. This wasn't one.

mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

I read somewhere that at least some of them think that being rejected is a prerequisite for Armageddon to start, or something. So, they're not actually trying to proselytize as much as trying to cause the world to end.

Bikejumpr9
Bikejumpr9

Anonymous DID hack their website. While on a live interview no less... look it up.... It is hilarious....

Paul
Paul

yarmulke ...

Ket354
Ket354

 . . . and shrimp eaters, and mixed fibers, and those that touch women who are menstrating, and . . .  I'm sorry, does anyone really live their life based on Leviticus?

Jason
Jason

So basically you are here to remind us that, indeed, God Hates Fags?  Thanks.  We got that from the pics above.  We are all reminded.  By the way, nice job with cleaning up the phrasing by using the word "homosexuality".  If it makes you sleep better at night that you didn't use the word "fag", the go right ahead.  The sentiment is still there, though, right?

And, since we've got you here and you seem to be helping us out with the teachings of Westboro Baptist, can you let us know why God Hates Soldiers, too?  Wonder if you've got some scripture you can quote?

Allison
Allison

Who died and left you in charge of heaven? That's what I thought....

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

Oh boy, it's a scripture fight!

Mark 12, 38-40 (KJV):

38 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the market places,39 and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:40 which devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

CUTT
CUTT

Mary please quote scripture in context. You are right God does hate sin. Your sin my sin everyone's sin. He will send those which do iniquity into the lake of fire. That's his job. Your job is to reach those that are in sin and share the LOVE of God with them. If they do not take that then JESUS will deal with them in the END TIMES which is the context of this scripture. I share the gospel every day. I have seen many homosexuals turn from that lifestyle not a one of them has done it because I told them they would be destroyed by God..

Ellum08
Ellum08

I think that is the University of Houston Cougar handsign. I could be wrong though.

mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

When I was a kid, my parents told me bullies would go away if I just ignored them or turned the other cheek, too.

It's never worked.

Adam Zed Dehart
Adam Zed Dehart

Ehh, I would have shown up in satirical support of WBC and the Bible, holding a sign that says "KILL BULLIES WITH BEARS (II Kings 2:23-25)"

Tom L (No, Not That L)
Tom L (No, Not That L)

There are interesting ways to troll writers you don't like on the internet, Duder. This wasn't one.

Mwootto
Mwootto

What did she do wrong? Any suggestions?

mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

Not really, they just use selected parts as an excuse to prop up their hate.

Liz Salander
Liz Salander

Uh, I think now-a-days, they are called "lawyers."

GrA
GrA

You both are wrong (a little judgmental, I know), but first let me tell you where you are right. CUTT you are right that preaching hell fire and brimstone to someone who is not a Christian would be counter productive. They would most likely turn away in disgust or listen only out of fear. Christians should never desire or work towards those two outcomes. On the other hand, the bible is very clear on what is right and moral behavior and we should not be afraid to teach and preach about it when relevant or necessary. Telling people what the bible says, or better, showing them what the bible says is not judgmental. If we took that view on everything then a mother or a teacher shouldn't tell their children be quiet, behave, stop pulling people's hair, stop spitting, or whatever because it would be judgmental. We cannot take a back seat or inactive role in our Christian lives and just let God do all the convincing. We were put on this earth to love, help, and GUIDE. If I said that I am a better person than you and you are going straight to hell, then that would be judgmental. Telling people what you believe and what your faith teaches is never judgmental and should never be taken as such. 

By the way, I totally disagree with the tactics (and most of the beliefs) of the WBC. They are sometimes so over the top that I begin thinking they believe the exact opposite of what they are preaching. Its almost comical. That said getting angry at them, protesting them, acting lewd in front of them to offend them, and other tactics are all wasted and counter productive. We do not need the U.S. or the rest of the world to see that we disagree with them. They already know we do. It would be the same as protesting at a prison and saying that we disagree with murder, robbery, and rape. They both would be a waste of time and would only benefit the protester in giving them an outlet for their anger. 

You might say, 'Why don't you talk like this to the WBC people and their supporters?' Well, I took this time to comment to people who are reasonable and sensible. It would be a waste of time to talk to people with minds like children. STOP worrying about them. They have lost and the rest of the world has won.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

You may be right, but its a lot more fun to think, and probably a lot more offensive to th WBC if we look at it as 2 in the pink, 1 in stink

Duder121
Duder121

What's the point of condescending to people like this? The people who would be entertained by it already know how ridiculous they are. When's the last time you realized how wrong you were because someone was mean to you? If you're going to cover them take them seriously so people honestly considering their views can understand why they are so crazy and not just that people don't like them.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Flaming monkeys flying out of Fred's poop-chute would have been interesting.

Anna Merlan
Anna Merlan

I was just excited I got to write the words "exuberant dry-humping." 

Jason
Jason

Oooooohhhhh...  I see.  Just glanced at your commenting history.  You are an Anna Troll.  

But, okay.  So, if you were a professional journalist covering this traveling carnival you would have taken the serious route and written something that's already been reported on numerous times by every national print/tv media, and any local city's print/tv media that this group has visited?  Yay for you!  

In my opinion, when it comes to these assholes you don't give them the courtesy of an expose on their beliefs.  You point out that they are idiots.  You don't need to let readers know why they are asshats.  I'm pretty certain that 99% of the population know what they are about and already know they are asshats.  They are comical at this point and should be treated as such.

Not sure what your problem is with Anna but I appreciate the things she covers and the way she covers them.  

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