San Franciscans launch counter-protest against Westboro Baptist Church
Protesters rallied against Westboro Baptist Church members who picketed in San Francisco Tuesday as part of their God Hates the Media Tour.
The counter-protest started at the Twitter headquarters on Market Street at 3:50 p.m. and continued along Westboro Baptist Church’s picketing route to Pinterest and Reddit headquarters. Previous stops on the tour included Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Google headquarters in Mountain View and YouTube headquarters in San Bruno.
Justina Colunga, a real estate agent in San Francisco, coordinated the counter-protest after hearing the Westboro Baptist Church was picketing in San Francisco.
“I just want all of us to be a source of support and love in the city,” Colunga said. “Being cruel to one another is not acceptable.”
The Westboro Baptist Church started in Kansas in 1955 and is known for picketing military funerals and their stand against homosexuality and abortion. The Westboro Baptist Church has held more than 53,000 pickets, according to their website.
The church’s members argued that the media spreads messages that they consider harmful to the public, such as the acceptance of homosexuality.
“What I’m trying to tell you is that when you make use of a contemporary platform, it’s your duty to promote the platform of God,” said Steve Drain, a Westboro Baptist Church picketer who has been with the church for 14 years.
Members of the counter-protest stood side by side the Westboro Baptist Church members, holding bright signs that read “All You Need Is Love” and “Hell Must Be Fabulous.” Westboro Baptist Church members held signs with derogatory phrases like “God hates fags.”
“We wanted to take a stand for this and not be passive,” said Charles Vickery, one of the counter-protestors.
Vickery is one of Colunga’s friends who works for a programming website in San Francisco and who helped organize the counter-protest.
“We were talking about what we stand for as a city and we didn’t want to simply accept this,” Vickery said.
Several cars honked their horns as they passed protesters through rush hour traffic. The counter-protesters also drew the attention of people in the street, including San Francisco resident Phoenix Streets.
“They have the nerve to come here to my home,” Streets said. “I’m not going to let that go unanswered.”
Streets, whose mother was a reverend and was brought up Christian, saw the protesters in front of the Pinterest building. He said it was important to directly address members of the Westboro Baptist Church and was glad that the counter-protest was in place.
“It’s not about hate,” Streets said. “Jesus is all about loving thy neighbor as you love thyself.”