The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 21, 2012

Local residents block out Westboro protesters at Joplin graduation event

JOPLIN, Mo. — A group of seven protesters, some carrying signs expressing opposition to President Barack Obama, who recently endorsed same-sex marriages, gathered Monday afternoon near Missouri Southern State University in Joplin.

The group, members of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., held signs at the corner of Newman and Duquesne roads. The message, however, was shielded from passers-by after area residents gathered in front of the group at the intersection with a message of their own.

“Honk If You Love Joplin,” “Honk If You Love the Class of 2012” and “Joplin Pride” were among the messages on the signs the residents used to block the Westboro group, which is known for its stance against gays and lesbians.

The counter-protest was organized by Joplin resident Charlie Brown, who got the word out for it via Facebook. He said he has participated in a number of anti-Westboro events.

“I come from a military family, so that’s how I got into it,” he said. “I think it’s really important that we protect families from this kind of hatred.”

Brown also organized a rally held during the community memorial service on May 29, 2011. Then, thousands of people lined Range Line and Newman roads to show solidarity with Joplin after the Westboro group announced its intention to protest.

Only one man turned up to protest then, and he wasn’t affiliated with the Westboro group. He had to be ushered to safety by police after members of the crowd tried to pursue him.

The two groups of demonstrators were separated from each other Monday by metal barricades and police.

Jael Holroyd — a member of the Westboro group — carried a sign that said “God’s Fury,” bearing an image of a tornado.

“A year ago, Joplin was God-smacked by the tornado, and instead of repenting, she has rebuilt and proudly defied God,” Holroyd said.

Holroyd said the group was turned away last year by police who said they could not guarantee the group’s safety. Sgt. Ryan West with the Joplin Police Department said that statement is “inaccurate.” He said the group did not show up last year and was not turned away.

West said he was pleased to see both groups showing restraint.

“Everybody’s peaceful,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about. We want everybody to have the opportunity to exercise their rights as long as it’s peaceful and nobody gets hurt, and that’s what we’re here to do is make sure that happens.”

Asked whether staging a counter-protest gives attention to a group that craves it, Brown said he didn’t agree.

“A lot of people feel like we should ignore them,” he said. “But I feel like that if we hadn’t ignored them for so long, we might not have this problem now.”

Tosha Loyd, of Webb City, said she attended the protest to keep the focus on the Joplin High School students who were graduating. She said the Westboro group uses verses from the Old Testament to misrepresent God as vengeful.

“They need to reread the Bible, because John 13:34 says to ‘love everybody as I love you,’” she said. “They are not showing love, and this is not how God wants us to be.”

Phyllis Netzer came from Springfield to take part in the counter-protest. She carried a sign that said “Congrats, Joplin Grads.”

“They’re a mean, hateful, un-Christian group,” she said of the Westboro group. “I hate all that. The president of the United States is coming to a town that was devastated.

“I want to be able to tell my grandchildren that I did this.”



Funds raised

CHARLIE BROWN, who organized counter-protests against the Westboro group this year and last, said Monday that during the 2011 rally by his supporters, money was raised for relief efforts in Joplin, and a lot of donations were made to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 072814_jd anderson.jpg VIDEO: Noel strongman advances on talent show

    The past week has been busier than normal for Noel resident J.D. Anderson. Members of the production crew for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” told him they have shot more footage of him than of other contestants for the next episode. “They said I have the busiest schedule of anyone this week,” Anderson told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “There’s so many fun things you can do with B-roll as a strongman.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: ‘Annie’ production is a family thing

    There’s a twist to this week’s production of “Annie” at Memorial Auditorium. The show, a beloved classic tale of an orphan girl in search of a family, is full of real-life family members.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514 Band Box.jpg Jo Ellis: Carthage icon continues to play in local restaurant

    Chicago Coin’s Band-Box, also known as “Strike Up the Band,” has been a Carthage icon since the mid- to late 1950s. Any customer who frequented Red’s Diner, or Ray’s Cafe, and now the Pancake Hut is familiar with the pulsating rhythms and movements of this mechanical device.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Gubernatorial hopefuls make area appearances

    Three potential candidates for Missouri governor in 2016 made stops in the Joplin area this past week.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anti-landfill group seeks grand jury probe

    As more than 200 people filed into Riverton High School on Sunday to attend an anti-landfill group meeting, many stopped to sign a petition asking the Cherokee County District Court to summon a grand jury to investigate how land was acquired by the city of Galena for a proposed landfill.

    July 27, 2014

  • shoalcreekcleanup.jpg Wildcat Glades center puts on service day at Shoal Creek

    About 20 people on Saturday pulled trash out of Shoal Creek as they paddled in canoes and kayaks from Grand Falls to Zan’s Creekside Campground in Joplin.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hearts & Hammers plans annual home repair event

    Since 2003, volunteers with Hearts & Hammers of Southwest Missouri have made free improvements to more than 170 homes owned by the elderly, physically disabled, and single parent or low-income families.

    July 26, 2014

  • Money clouds farm fight

    For much of the summer, while the campaign surrounding “right to farm” has been focused on its impact on “small, family farmers,” the bulk of the money pouring into the fight has come from big agriculture interests.

    July 26, 2014

  • jameswelbornupdate.jpg Local teen completes half of solo river trip

    James Welborn, a recent Webb City High School graduate, has reached the halfway point of his solo canoe trip down the Mississippi River — just in time to celebrate his 19th birthday with family.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Neosho police warn residents of phone scam

    The Neosho Police Department has received complaints from residents saying someone impersonating a lieutenant from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office warrants division has been calling them.

    July 26, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

A new provision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows qualifying districts with high percentages of students on food assistance to allow all students to eat free breakfasts and lunches. Would you agree with this provision?

Yes
No
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter