Friday, May 17, 2013

Westboro Baptist Church Takes on the NBA, Ignores Elvis

Posted By on Fri, May 17, 2013 at 7:13 PM

The planned Westboro Baptist Church protest at Graceland started right on time but not in the location counter-protesters anticipated.

At 4:30 p.m., counter-protesters — decked out in rainbow attire and/or Elvis costumes and sideburns — were already huddled behind a police barricade outside Graceland's iconic signature wall. But Westboro's "God Hates Fags" signs were nowhere to be seen.

A few counter-protesters dressed like Elvis.
  • A few counter-protesters dressed like Elvis.

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Rumors began swirling that Westboro had set up across the street and a block away from Graceland, and against police wishes, the counter-protesters began slowly making their way down the street, a few at a time.

Sure enough, 10 or so Westboro members, most of them small children and teens, were holding their signature anti-gay signs at the corner of Elvis Presley and Lonely Street. But they weren't lonely for long, as the LGBT-supportive crowd and a gaggle of curious tourists made their way to Westboro's corner.

Most of the Westboro protesters were young children.
  • Most of the Westboro protesters were young children.

Although the Westboro Baptist Church's website said they'd be protesting Elvis as a false idol and drug addict, they weren't bearing any Elvis-related signs. Instead, the signs focused on gays, gay marriage, Obama, and new enemy — the NBA. Signs reading "Fag NBA" with pictures of rainbow basketballs were likely due to NBA star Jason Collins recently coming out as the first openly gay player in the NBA.

The NBA is a new target for Westboro.
  • The NBA is a new target for Westboro.

And Obama was a target as well.
  • And Obama was a target as well.

The Westboro members brought a stereo along with them, and they were playing Maroon 5 and Garth Brooks songs but changing the words like this catchy chorus from Maroon 5's "This Love": "This lust has taken control of you. We said, okay, god has become your foe."

This lady never stopped singing.
  • This lady never stopped singing.

It wasn't long before counter-protesters began posing for silly pictures with the Westboro people, who continued their singing while the photos were being taken. At one point, a counter-protester dressed as Elvis began serenading the Westboro crowd.

Eventually, the police assigned to watch the counter-protesters realized the protesters had moved to the location where the Westboro people were, and police on horses showed up to block Westboro's members from further interaction with the counter-protesters.

The police separated counter-protesters from the Westboro members.
  • The police separated counter-protesters from the Westboro members.

Westboro packed up to leave at 5:40, a few minutes after the protest was supposed to have ended.

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