Kansas Church Travels to Bklyn to Target Jews in Hate Rally

By Ben Chapman for the NY Daily News

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas protest in front of Village Hall, in New Paltz, N.Y.

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.”

19 Comments

  • 1. Who-s worse? These nuts, or PETA??? wrote:

    B”H

    You know, now that I think about it, how come these nut cases are treated with any less respect than PETA??

    They’re both maligning Yiddishkeit!

  • 2. amused and sick wrote:

    Let them come to 770, we can show them a thing or 2.

    these white trash will be in for a whoopin –

    the world is officially nuts!

  • 3. How do they choose which Jewish sites? wrote:

    B“H

    What are the other sites (besides ”Temple Shomrei Emunah” in Boro Park)?

    How are their sites chosen?

    Isn’t there a hate-crimes law against people doing this kind of thing?

  • 5. Hungry for Kishke wrote:

    To: How do they choose which Jewish sites?

    That’s easy. They found out which shul has the best cholent and kugel at their kiddush. Shomrei Emunah, if you have faith, will also be serving cocosh cake and pogasca. I heard they will have kreplach and lekach too.

  • 6. joe wrote:

    I was thinking of sending them an Email inviting them to protest in front of 770 or 749 it would be a good opportunity for the Israeli to let out some energy

  • 7. lawyer wrote:

    1) it is within their legal rights to protest peacefully on public property. it’s within their constitutional rights, thus has to be allowed. it doesn’t matter that phelps and his message is insane.

    2) bringing phelps to 770? not a good idea… they want people to attack, why give them further ammunition? the best thing to do is ignore them.

  • 8. To how do they choose wrote:

    In the US you can only be convicted of a hate crime if you violate someone’s rights because of the victim’s race, religion, etc. Merely protesting peacefully is not a hate crime because protesting does not violate anyone’s rights. You do not have the right to not be offended. You have the right not to be punched in the face.

    Other countries (like Canada if I understand correctly) may be different.

  • 11. Milhouse wrote:

    The “Westboro Baptist Church” is not a hate group; the word “group” implies that it is of at least some size, but the WBC consists of only ONE FAMILY. It has NO members beyond the Phelps family, so that is what we should call it. It is not affiliated with any Baptist or other religious organization.

    This family goes touring around the country, doing its best to upset people. That is how they get their entertainment. Occasionally someone gets so upset that he attacks them, and then they sue him and win. That is how they make their living. The ONLY sane policy is to ignore them completely. Do not counter-demonstrate, do not shout at them, do not try to engage them in debate, just pretend they don’t exist – that’s almost true!

    If everyone ignored them, then eventually they would give up and go home. By giving them attention you are giving them exactly what they want, and if they get that why should they ever stop?

  • 12. Milhouse wrote:

    To “Jewish Music”: They’re doing this on Shabbos, so no.

    To “How do they choose which Jewish sites?”. A hate crime is a kind of crime; before something can be classified as a hate crime, it must first be a crime of SOME kind. What the Phelpses do, expressing their opinion on public property, is not a crime in the first place, so how can it be a hate crime?

    This is America, where EVERYBODY has the right to express their opinions, no matter how many people disagree. It is perfectly legal to say that Hitler was right, or that black slavery was right, or whatever else you like; and we would be insane to want it any other way.

  • 13. a fervent supporter wrote:

    Milhouse & Lawyer, you are absolutely right — don’t give them the satisfaction of acknowledging their evil presence. I also think Jewish Music has the perfect idea about the music.And Hyngry for Kishke, you are just too funny!!!!

  • 14. i AGREE IGNORE THEM wrote:

    YOU ARE RIGHT WE NEED TO JUST IGNORE THEM. THEY DO IT OUT OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF.

    I just looked at their website. They are not necessarily anti-Semites per say. It seems that they have a belief in “Yoshke” and believe that the world is not as rosy as everyone believes it to be or all the leaders tell you it is. They believe they need to tell the world their truth and if it is not politically correct and is unpleasant, so be it. They believe they are saying the truth of their religion.

    THEREFORE DO NOT GIVE THEM THEIR ATTENTION THEY ARE LOOKING FOR. THEY CLAIM THEY ARE NOT VIOLENT AND JUST WANT TO PROTEST.

  • 15. none jew. wrote:

    They are obviously doing this to get a reaction. Although it’s pathetic, the best thing to do is ignore!!

  • 16. DL wrote:

    Huh, interesting… They are protesting our “protected” right to believe, whilst insisting on their rights to a peaceful protest. My fingers are so twisted trying to write that out, what must their heads be like? (Forget it. Don’t want to know.)

  • 17. Shlucha wrote:

    We had the same thing in our community during the summer. We just ignored them and waited until they left

  • 18. Not a lawer but... wrote:

    Technically, there may be grounds for arrest if they disturb the peace. There was a story of a neo-nazi who dressed up as a SS officer and he stood in front of a shul around pessach time. It also happened to be Hitler Y”S birthday. He started screaming about how great hitler was. Some members of the shul ran out and beat him up. They got off because while there is a freedom of speech. It can’t come at expense to others. They can protest in public places, but in front of shuls may be illegal. I am sure that lawers all over are working on trying to get them to stop, but I thought you mught want to know.

  • 19. D Cohen wrote:

    It is time for some legal analysts to look at this issue seriously, because local govts. may be haphazardly saying that it is due to first ammendment rights that this group can protest in front of shuls, schools etc.

    Perhaps that is NOT so, many hate groups have been banned from protesting, isn’t that the case with the KKK?

    And, doesn’t the community have a right to deny the protest request if it is during a period deemed holy to that community?

    Have legal experts really looked into these matters diligently?

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