When I got to work last night, a co-worker said they had heard that Fred Phelps and his hateful, misguided clan were “Completely blocked in” by semi-trucks at Joplin while attempting to spread their hate speech (they call it freedom and religion). Their website proudly stated “Thank God For 125 dead in Joplin”.
So, being absolutely delighted by this mental image of the Phelps trapped by an angry mob, I decided to see if I could find out how true this is. I did find out that something similar happened, but I haven’t gotten any local news reports on this. Here’s what I found so far. From the L.A. Times :
[....] Thousands of motorcyclists also streamed into town from Missouri and surrounding states, many announcing their intention to block protests planned by the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, which said it would picket Obama’s arrival.
The controversial church opened a raw wound here with its announcement that those killed when a 200 mph tornado struck Joplin a week ago, now estimated at 139, “died for the sins of Missourians who have repeatedly lifted up their violent hands against God’s anointed, despite plain warnings not to do so.”
“We love Joplin. Joplin’s hurting. Nobody needs to make it worse. They need to go home,” said Mike Striegel, a biker from Joplin.
“We will take care of our town, no matter what it takes,” added Herb Kirkpatrick Jr., a motorcyclist from the outskirts of Joplin.
Most of those lining miles of roadway between Joplin’s main mall and the campus of Missouri Southern State University, where Obama was scheduled to speak after touring the 6-mile-long storm-ravaged area, were couples, families and groups of young people, many waving flags and posters of support for the city.
“We’re trying to show respect and honor for the ones we lost in Joplin,” said Charlie Brown, a co-organizer of the street rally, who said more than 20,000 people indicated on the group’s three Facebook pages that they planned to attend.[....]
And apparently there was a little more than just lining the streets with flags that happened! Some reports are coming in that they (Westboro) was confronted and blocked by vehicles at “The Flying J” Truck Stop. From a Facebook page:
“Just want to say that They did show up in joplin today, Fred mouthed off to a couple bikers, got his ass kicked, then was blocked in at the Flying J”
There are LOTS of rumors and some conflicting reports out there everywhere. This one is an anonymous comment from an apparent witness/participant in this.
(sic)”The Police walked one individual (Male) right in front of all us Bikers to there West B. Protesting area. That was a Big Mistake.. The chase in sued,the police couldnt run that guy out of there fast enough. We made to the other side of the parking lot ware we were met with force. Pepper spray go figure. It was brief then order was regained. Who ever arranged for there protest area tobe set up right next to 1000 plus bikers with a yellow caution tape being the divider really didnt think it through.Lol… ( May Faith and Kindness Speed your Recovery Joplin ).. WE Have Your Back.. ……….Bikers………….”
Just when I was about to give up on rumors and anonymous comments, I found one tiny piece from a more official news agency, an ABC affiliate that seems to perfectly corroborate the anonymous comment above:
“Members of the Westboro Baptist Church scheduled a protest in Joplin, Mo., Sunday. One protestor arrived around 12:15 p.m. and was accosted by counter protestors. Police escorted the Westboro member to safety and used tear gas to control the crowd”
Another report from the same ABC affiliate:
“It all started in a parking lot across from Missouri Southern State University, where today’s memorial took place.
According to witnesses, a crowd of people swarmed a man after he showed what they called a hateful sign.
Police ran into the crowd threatening to use tear gas if it got out of control.
Police then detained the man and escorted him away from the scene.
“Everybody just swarmed him, yeah, they were swarming him, throwing water bottles at him and just basically getting him out of here,” said Kelly Gresham, a witness at the scene. “They were trying to keep a little control here, the officers were, but it was just not going to happen with him.”
Our KSPR News crew did see a man detained by police with a folded up sign in his lap, but did not see what was actually on the sign.
Witnesses insist it was a sign similar to ones used by members of the Westboro Baptist Church.
According to the church’s website, a protest was planned for today.
Officials with the Missouri Department of Public Safety only heard of this one incident and are unsure if the individual involved was in fact part of the church.”
One more for good measure:
(Joplin, MO) — Police in Joplin fired off pepper spray to break up a minor clash between a small group of protesters and another group of people seeking to shield tornado victims from the protest.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas traveled to Joplin to protest ahead of a community memorial service. The group claims the tornado, which devastated parts of Joplin a week ago, was God’s wrath for America tolerating homosexuality.
Members of the Patriot Guard were in the same area as the Westboro group and witnesses tell KOLR10 there was a minor confrontation between one member of each group with shouting and some shoving. Police sprayed pepper spray to separate the groups.
ANYBODY reading that witnessed any of these incidents? If so, please comment!