BROOKLYN, NY — They’re not in Kansas anymore.
Topeka-based hate group Westboro Baptist Church is targeting Brooklyn Jews with a barrage of hate-filled demonstrations this week.
“These guys are really sick; they’re filled with hatred for Jews and a lot of other people,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Borough Park). “We have to make their lives miserable when they come to Brooklyn.”
The anti-Semitic, anti-evrything organization plans to picket five synagogues in the borough Saturday, the day before Yom Kippur, the most important religious holiday for Jews.
The group is on a four-day visit to New York, where they’ll demonstrate at 19 locations, mostly synagogues, around the city and Long Island.
They will start today at Brooklyn Tech High School in Fort Greene to bring their message to students.
The group’s members think the end of the world is coming, and frequently picket churches, temples and even funerals to try to spread their beliefs.
About 10 extremists drove from Topeka to New York for this week’s demonstrations. They plan to assemble on sidewalks and sing anti-Jewish songs and display signs with slogans such as “God Hates Jews” and “America is Doomed.”
“We’re not looking for any welcome wagon,” said Shirley Phelps-Roper, 57, a Westboro organizer. “We just hope the police will keep the peace.”
She said the group has visited New York for protests 34 times since 1994, and has never had a violent incident.
Westboro members have visited Brooklyn twice previously, most recently to picket the Christian Cultural Center on Flatlands Ave. in 2006. They have now decided to target Jews in the borough because “there are 1.6 million Jews in New York and Brooklyn so we need to go there,” Phelps-Roper said.
The first of the five temples the group plans to picket on Saturday is Temple Shomrei Emunah in Borough Park.
“I’ll be there, and so will many members of the Jewish community,” said Hikind. “I think there will be a lot of anger.”
The police have been notified of the group’s plan to picket Shomrei Emunah and the other sites.
Borough President Marty Markowitz, City Councilman Bill de Blasio, Rabbi Andy Bachman of Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, community leader and politician Brad Lander and the Lambda Independent Democrats issued a joint statement yesterday that read, in part:
“While we support the right to peacefully gather, we must denounce hate in any form – especially hate from a fanatic cult based in Kansas that has shamefully selected these sacred days observed by the Jewish community around the world to spew its intolerance.”