Members of Fred Phelps' anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas came to town Monday, Aug. 3 for a series of protests targeting Jewish groups and synagogues. Some Jewish leaders called for ignoring the protests, while some organized counter-demonstrations. Five Phelps' followers ( but not Fred ) showed up on the street across from Emanuel Congregation, 5959 N. Sheridan at 11 a.m. Monday ( including two children ) . They were met by more than 200 LGBT people and their allies who stood strong in front of the building. Among the politicians present were Rep. Greg Harris, Rep. Harry Osterman, Ald. Joe Moore, and former state Sen. Carol Ronen.
While the protest was mostly supposed to be silent from the supporters of Emanuel Congregation ( which is where the gay Congregation Or Chadash group meets ) , there were plenty of signs and in some cases shouts and singing. Police surrounded the Phelps' followers, their presence in part to keep traffic from stopping. Many cars and motorcycles passed by honking in support of the pro-gay group.
The crowd was filled with allies of the Jewish congregation, including people organized through the Edgewater Community Religious Organization. Meanwhile, the Phelps' clan shouted horrible anti-gay and anti-Jewish sentiments, which were also represented in their signs, some which read: "Israel is Doomed," "The Jews Killed Jesus," "Bloody Obama," and "God Hates You".
Photos here are from the Emanuel Congregation protest. After this half-hour of hate, they planned to move on to Anshe Emet Synagogue in Lakeview, Temple Sholom of Chicago, Chicago Sinai Congregation & Central Synagogue, the downtown Democratic National Convention office at 5 p.m., and Don Rickles at the Auditorium at 6 p.m. because the aging comic is soliciting donations for the 2009 Jewish United Fund-Israel Emergency Fund.
Photos by Tracy Baim.