Demonstrators from the Westboro Baptist Church visited Wayne State on the morning of Nov. 18 to protest Jewish people and other demographics.
Four members of the WBC –- which is based in Kansas and is best known for its explicit homophobia and disruption of military funerals – organized at the intersection of Second and Warren avenues, near the Life Science building.
Their purpose for the 23-minute visit, during which they sang racist parodies of the Israeli national anthem, Hava Nagila and Hey Jude (“Hey Jews”), was to protest Hillel of Metro Detroit, “the foundation for Jewish campus life,” according to the organization’s website.
According to the WBC’s website, the
The website also called Jewish people Christ-killers.
But they also found time to shout “God hates (homosexuals).”
WBC was represented by four sign-bedecked singers. One of the WBC protesters left halfway through, while the counter-demonstration swelled to between 60 to 70 people in the toward the end.
WBC’s delegation was protected at all times by WSU police, and members of the Michigan Militia were there to keep the peace as well.
Counter-demonstrators wore homosexual pride symbols, Guy Fawkes “anonymous” masks from the website “4chan,” and patriotic decorations, and carried light-hearted signs that relied on Internet memes. They laughed as often as they chanted about tolerance and sang pop songs.
Miriam Starkman, Executive Director for Hillel in Southeastern Michigan, said,
Matt Savino, a Muslim who called himself the commanding officer of the 8th division of the Michigan Militia Corps Wolverines, observed the WBC delegation with two fellow militia members in fatigues and boots.
Savino also said it was “self-defeating” for WBC members to disrupt military funerals while depending on First Amendment rights guaranteed by the soldiers they insulted.
Counterdemonstrator Liano Sharon said,
His friend Eric Braun added,