A lot of Care2 readers reacted very strongly last week when news emerged that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that Al Snyder, the father of Matthew Snyder, a Marine who was killed in Iraq in 2006, must pay part of the legal costs incurred by members of the Westboro Baptist Church whom he had taken to court for picketing his son’s funeral with signs saying, among other things, “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” You can read more about that story here.
Since this news broke, Al Snyder has received a lot of support from the public, a number of whom have donated to help Snyder with his own legal costs ahead of the case being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court in October. You can keep up with with the case by going here.
A lot of readers also commented on the story concerning Al Snyder’s legal fight by mentioning grassroots organizations and activist groups that continue to stage counter protests against the Phelps family when they turn up to picket funerals, schools and other such places.
With this in mind, here is a video that surfaced this past week (hat tip to Americablog Gay) of a recent counter protest organized by students at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, California. The counter demonstration was used as part of their “Not In Our Schools” initiative that has grown out of the larger “Not In Our Town” grassroots movement. More on that below. First, here’s the video clip:
The next video depicts a community’s reaction when the Westboro group decided that they were going to picket Newark Memorial High School’s production of “The Laramie Project,” a play that looks at the events surrounding the brutal murder of gay Wyoming teenager Matthew Shepard and the reaction to his death. Drawing on a scene from the play, members of the community donned angel costumes to stand together and block from view the Westboro group’s protests:
As I know many of you are aware, another peaceful protest group that can often be seen when the Phelps family pickets a soldier’s funeral in particular, is the Patriot Guard Riders. With an emphasis on tolerance and respect, the motorcycle group of ex-service members and other supporters travels around the country to attend the funerals of fallen soldiers in order to shield grieving families from the Westboro clan’s protests. You can find out more about the Patriot Guard Riders by visiting their website.
Now to the aforementioned grassroots organization “Not In Our Town.” Sparked by a critically acclaimed PBS documentary, Not In Our Town has now become a national movement which empowers local communities to come together against racism, anti-LGBT rhetoric and hate crimes.
From the Not In Our Town website:
Not In Our Town uses the power of media, grassroots events, educational outreach and online activities to help communities talk to and learn from each other. Together, Not In Our Town communities share stories and strategies about how to foster safety, inclusion and acceptance.
Developed by The Working Group, Not In Our Town began with a PBS documentary that told the story of how people in Billings, Montana joined together to respond to a series of hate crimes in their town. This simple, powerful story of citizens banding together struck a chord with audiences, and created a model that inspired viewers around the country to hold their own campaigns against intolerance. Now in its second decade, the Not In Our Town movement continues to grow.
Here is an excerpt from the critically acclaimed PBS documentary that briefly depicts the origins of the community based project:
As mentioned above, Not In Our Town also runs the Not In Our School campaign, which the group describes as “a peer-to-peer learning program that uses film and storytelling to encourage safety and inclusion.” You can read more about that here.
Want to find out more? Here are some ways to connect to Not in Our Town:
Photo taken from the Not In Our Town website used under fair use terms, no infringement intended.
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