Yesterday was a good day for Charleston. You see, the folks from Westboro “baptist” were in town (and will be until Sunday) protesting everything in WV (apparently). There are Catholic folks and Jewish folks and LGBT folks and Irish folks (and all sorts of other folks) that live here. That makes WV a target. Yes, you heard it right…if you are breathing, Westboro “baptist” hates you. Actually, they hate things that are no longer breathing as well.
By itself, their presence wasn’t great for Charleston or WV, but Charleston’s response showed the greatness of the city and its people. I suppose 200-300 people came out to tell the haters to go home. Most folks didn’t hate back, they just asked them to go home. I think a lot of people in the city sort of bonded together and that is always good for community.
I initially participated in a flashmob (that was announced to the media so was less flash-like) to say something like, “you can hate, but we aren’t about that…we’re gonna dance”. Charleston’s Covenant House, a community action group that helps disadvantaged folks, started the flash mob idea. At every protest (and there are many) the flashmobbers are going to do the dance (video below). Some say that we played into their plan of more attention, but I think they are drawing attention to themselves and the media is going to cover that anyhow. As long as they cover it, these people won’t go away. So, we decided to try to steal some of their media coverage and we did…and we strengthened community a bit more.
Anyhow, after the flashmob, a ton of people headed to the front side of the capitol and basically tried to surround and hide the Westboro people. People from here brought signs and posters and flags to hold in front of the hate signs. People came out in numbers to surround the protesters and their message and, in a non-violent (and mostly non-hateful) way, told them they aren’t wanted here.
Pretty cool video capturing the flashmob as well as the other protesting – some good and a little rougher:
I was proud of Charleston and WV. While Westboro people spewed hate and exploited their kids, we came together in unity and had a great time showing that diversity is great and fun and to be celebrated!