Hate? Not in Our Town!

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.


Melody Aragorn
Melody Aragorn7 years ago

thank you wooddragon xx for wording it so beautifully, In this world if one want a future one needs to learn to live in Peace and with love... Hate is meant only for frustrated incompetent souls who are at war with themselves.. this is our earth and if we choose to wipe out hate we can together by choosing to say no. we have but one life and one world lets spread love...Peace..

Aveyah Cline
Aveyah Watch8 years ago

Note: pedophiles claiming to be gay!!!Yes! It's true... The Hate Crimes Act & Sexually Equal Act: in some states allows

pedophiles the same rights as gays...which elimates a pedophile from being put on the regisitry list. That is in 20 states. Many pedophiles claim to be gay, yet the gay people I have meant are not a pedophile. No history of it.

But some pedophiles who live around the schools in our town are unstable

pedophiles and claim to gay...they get out prisons earlier than most & gain rights to live next to a school.

Talk about sick government in local towns or whoever listens to a pedophile.

Tell me your view!

And I wonder why they have been making a bad name for gays?

I am not gay: but I am married & my own 11 year old ask these questions.

Gays need to stand up for their rights and get things changed so they don't look bad! This is actually is causing problems all over America. I beg all Gays to educate about Pedophiles, Child Molesters and Animals Abusers (Sexual) claiming to gay & how they are making the Gay Community look bad!

Beng Kiat Low
low beng kiat8 years ago


wooddragon xx
wooddragon xx8 years ago

I am glad I live in my multicultural area. I am happy raising a child of mixed heritage. I am proud to be of mixed heritage. I am thankful for living amongst many different nationalities, cultures, religions and sexual orientations; I have learnt so much embracing all these differences in my life. Mine and my Daughter’s lives are enriched with learning and sharing all our differences.

We are better Human Beings for sharing and embracing life’s differences.

I am Proud I stand up and Fight Hate and I will always continue to fight this abomination.

Peace to you all...

Gabi B.
Gabi B8 years ago

This loathsome group has made regular visits to my hometown to harass the high school students. They are generally dealt with by being made invisible. They haven't been back in awhile.

pam w.
pam w8 years ago

It's inspiring to see people of all ages shunning these alleged "religious leaders."

In an odd way, these disgusting "demonstrators" serve a purpose--they're polarizing and letting young people see the worst in human behavior.

They're "demonstrating," all right--demonstrating their stupidity and hatred.

the lionheart l.
.8 years ago

I am so happy in the strength of those who banned together to counter the voices of hate. Being a parent it is enough to lose a child and to then be aggravated by people who are misguided and uncaring of the further hurt they are causing. God can fight for himself you know. There are times just to be quiet and show love to people especially in times of funerals. With Jesus as my example; he grieved and understood when he saw funeral processions. His heart was full of love; why can't we all be like that. By the way, in war people are in harms way and run the risk of being killed or maimed. That is common sense, which we all are suppose to have. The decease's life choice had nothing to do with why he died in war. We all have common sense we need to use it.

Mike L.
Mike L8 years ago

Thanks 4 all this helpful info!
Some people embrace any excuse to hate....

Jeni W.
Jeni W8 years ago

protesting a funeral is so twisted. these groups that say no to that are pretty amazing

Milena K.
Mima M8 years ago

Agree with Ann ;)