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Philly Natives Hold Back the Westboro Baptist Church

Philly Natives Hold Back the Westboro Baptist Church: Spencer Platt / Getty

Spencer Platt / Getty

Philadelphians came out in full force, blocking traffic and some even donning little to no clothing in a flagrant counter-protest of the hate group known as the Westboro Baptist Church, which had planned to protest an LGBT health care clinic in Center City Philadelphia Tuesday afternoon.

It was promoted for weeks ahead of time on social media as the “Great Wall of Love,” an effort to block the Westboro Baptist Church members from protesting against and harassing patients seeking treatment at the Mazzoni Center at 8th and Locust streets in downtown Philadelphia.

But for the hateful four who hailed all the way from Topeka, Kansas, more than 1,000 counter-protesters flooded an entire city block outside the Mazzoni Center with their own fabricated and handmade signs, many which mimicked and mocked the design and shape of those trademarked by the WBC.

Playboy caught up with the granddaughter of WBC founder Pastor Fred Phelps, Jael Holroyd, as she and her three cohorts were returning to their car with a full police escort. It required that much protection to practically beat back those hurling angry slurs and epithets of disgust at them.

Holroyd said their mission in coming to Philadelphia was to protest the Democratic National Convention, and they thought to protest the LGBT health clinic while they were in town. On Tuesday night, they were staked out in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, adjacent the Wells Fargo Center, which is a designated area for protesters and and area protected by police.

Chris Goldstein has been on the board of directors at PhillyNORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) since 2009. He’s also a marijuana columnist with philly.com. He held a giant sign Tuesday that read, “Legalize Gay Marijuana.”

“It’s a quadruple entendre that trolls Westboro Baptist Church, so it’s important,” he quipped. “When we heard we were going to come out and do this Westboro Baptist Church thing, last night, we got 40 brand new signs with hilarious, wonderful messaging.

“We’re experienced, seasoned, peaceful protesters, as marijuana activists. We know what we’re doing and we have a great relationship with the police, too. I’m glad to support this community that supports marijuana reform so much.” As of late Tuesday night, there were no reported arrests at FDR Park.


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