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PHOTOS: Westboro Protest Unites Glen Burnie Community

Three protesters from Westboro Baptist Church drew hundreds of counterprotesters with the theme of "uniting our community."

More than 200 people gathered Tuesday afternoon at the intersection of Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard and Kuethe Road to send one message: unity.

The crowds gathered near  shouting "thanks for bringing us together" as they counterprotested three Westboro Baptist Church members, a group best known for its anti-gay protests.

Westboro members said their purpose was to warn the students and school community to stop "rebelling against God."

"We're here because of the  [Jr]. God sent the pervert. This is a nation of perverts," Westboro member Shirley Phelps-Roper said.

Sears, 30, of the 400 block of Luther Road in Glen Burnie, faces 13 sex-related charges, including three counts of sex abuse of a minor. His trial is scheduled for April 17 in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

"And the board member was on the news saying,  Why?" Phelps-Roper said. "You've taught these children, these young ladies, to be proud whores."

But counterprotesters chanted about love, respect and honor—as well as telling the Westboro members they were not welcome in Glen Burnie.

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Chip Hale of Glen Burnie was visibly emotional as he screamed at Westboro protesters.

"I fought for your freedom," said the former Marine, who said he served from 1996-2004. "I fought so you could be free."

When asked why he attended the counterprotest he said: "You know why I was here," as he fought back tears. "I was hoping to get a hold of one of them."

Glen Burnie principal Vickie Plitt gathered with faculty and staff members to watch the scene from a distance, at times cheering as motorcyclists revved their engines to drown out the Westboro protesters.

Anne Arundel County schools spokesman Bob Mosier said they had about a week to get the logistics together for the students' dismissal, which coincided with the beginning of the protest. Dismissal time was not altered, but some after-school activities and the first period of Glen Burnie's night school were canceled, Mosier said.

"The school spent part of last week and yesterday [teaching lessons] around 'What is the First Amendment? What protections are there?' And they taught lessons about tolerance and acceptance," he said. "What it's done in an interesting way is to sort of galvanize everyone together."

While police officials were unable to immediately give an estimate of the number of officers involved in policing the protest, there were a "significant amount of resources" on hand, said police spokesman Justin Mulcahy.

"We're here to make sure that all Constitutional rights are upheld," he said. "But safety and keeping the peace is the main priority."

MAW March 16, 2012 at 11:34 AM
I think Anne Arundel County should charge the WBC for the use of our Police and other resources to protect their demonstration.
Rissa Elizabeth March 16, 2012 at 04:25 PM
They were also there because of GBHS Principal, some don't know but she is a Lesbian. So that's also another reason they were protesting not just because of the Teacher.
edward myers March 16, 2012 at 10:43 PM
absodamnlutly
Al Marcus March 27, 2012 at 06:19 PM
What a day! I knew how much controversy WBC brings, but I didn't know that many counter-protesters were going to show up. Here's a few of my photos from the day. http://www.almarcusphoto.com/2012/03/westboro-baptist-church-visits-glen-burnie-high-school-in-glen-burnie-md/
Tony Capo March 27, 2012 at 07:17 PM
2Th 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction,.... With destruction both of soul and body, though not with the annihilation of either; their gnawing worm of conscience will never die, and the fire of divine wrath will never be quenched; the smoke of their torment will ascend for ever. Sin being committed against an infinite and eternal Being, will be infinite in its duration; nor will it cease to be in the persons punished, who will not be in the least reformed or purged from sin by punishment; which will make the continuance of it just and necessary. And these will be driven from the presence of the Lord; Now the word is crystal clear. NO sexually immoral persons will inherit the kingdom of heaven. they will find everlasting destruction. The big lie that God loves everybody will be of no comfort to you in those flames!

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