So I've seen them, across a wide divide. The Crazy People (of the Westboro Baptist Church) decided to protest in front of East Providence High School, because EPHS has a gay straight student alliance like many high schools. Unfortunately, my camera is not much better than my eyes, so that though I knew I was witnessing walking fruitcakes of hate, they remained oddly undefined caricatures in the drippy day. Its very sad, but they had a child of about 11 with them, carrying a hate filled sign.
For those that are unfamiliar with the WBC, they are from Topeka, Kansas, and run around the country protesting at schools and soldiers funerals. They were going to protest at the Holocaust museum here in town after leaving the HS. They carry signs like "God hates fags" and "Antichrist Obama." I participated in the counter protest with about 6 other members of the Rhode Island Atheist Society. The signs of the counter protest said "Teach Love not Hate," "WBC needs a hug," "Our Big Signs are Better" "We Support East Providence Students" and "LOL," among others. There were 5 to 8 WBC and maybe 80-100 counter protesters, and lots of cops. The WBC is reported to make money to fund their operations by instigating violence, then suing. They sure didn't get a fight from us!
I think their ability to incite an anger response has gone down. Maybe they still are able to do it at funerals. I don't understand the psychology of people like that. I showed up to support the students and also, I don't get angry quick so thought I might be able to help out there. But no one was angry. The students had a great time! lol. Below are a few pics, starting with one of the WBC.
The rest of the pictures are of the counter protesters...