Widely regarded as wackos who have dogged military funerals with provocative signs linking war casualties with homosexuality, the Westboro Baptist Church's planned picketing of Grant High School in Portland Thursday drew almost 400 counter protesters.
A counter-protestor's banner
Soaking up the first sunshine in three weeks, the crowd jubilantly waved brightly-colored signs with messages ranging from the silly to the serious.
See all of The Skanner News photos of the event on our Facebook page.
Observers say about eight Westboro church members from Kansas stayed for about 20 minutes before driving away in an SUV.
Despite the early hour – people started thronging in front of the school before 7 a.m. – the multi-racial and multi-generational crowd played music, danced, and enjoyed an al fresco concert by
City Commissioner Nick Fish made his own sign for the event
some 100 Grant High School vocalists gathered on the school steps singing "Lean on Me," and "We Are the World."
Oregon Attorney General John Kroger last Saturday announced Oregon is joining 47 other states in filing an amicus brief on behalf of Albert Snyder, who has brought suit against Westboro after church members picketed the military funeral of his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, in 2006.
Snyder alleges that Westboro leader Fred Phelps and his congregation are guilty of invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of distress.
Phelps counters that his picket signs – including one that says "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" – are protected speech under the Constitution.
While in Oregon and Southern Washington, Westboro members picketed at high schools and synagogues.