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Anti-gay church visits in MetroWest and Cambridge produce counter protestors, no arrests

Posted by Megan McKee  December 3, 2010 03:34 PM

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As promised, members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church showed up to picket outside of Framingham High School, Brandeis University, Harvard University, and a Wayland mosque today.

No one was arrested or injured in any of the demonstrations, officials said. They said counter protesters far out numbered the few church members who showed up.

The group, known for its inflammatory beliefs against gays and non-Christian religions, made its Framingham appearance as school started.

Framingham High School was targeted because of its Friday and Saturday night productions of "The Laramie Project," a play about the murder of a young gay man in Wyoming.

Principal Mike Welch said there were “no real issues other than there were lots of people late to school due to traffic tie-ups.”

About 100 people showed up to counter-protest the church members, said Framingham Police Lt. Ron Brandolini. He said there were four church members and 10 police officers on hand, and no arrests or other incidents.

At Brandeis University, 300 students turned out for the morning program of “Celebrate Brandeis”, a daylong festival highlighting the strengths of the school's vibrant and diverse community, said Rachel Goldfarb, a Brandeis senior who is the spokeswoman the event.

The students gathered on the schools' Great Lawn to listen to music and remarks from school performers, interfaith chaplains, and officials, said Goldfarb. The event was planned in response to the church demonstration in less than two weeks and students have talked about making it an annual celebration, said Goldfarb.

Andrew Gully, head of communications for Brandeis, said about 60 people showed up to either observe or counter-protest the Westboro Baptist Church.

“Everybody was well behaved,” said Gully.

The group also went to the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland, and the Hillel center at Harvard. Both of those visits were incident-free, said Wayland and Cambridge police.

The group has said it would picket before Framingham High's 7:30 p.m. Saturday performance of “The Laramie Project." In response, the Framingham community will hold a candlelight vigil and rally called "Love is Louder" on Saturday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the high school's steps.

Megan McKee can be reached at megan.mckee@gmail.com.

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