Denounced as hate group, Westboro Baptist Church plans ‘peaceful, religious’ protest at DNC

    Qween Amar from Orlando

    Qween Amar from Orlando

    Members of the Westboro Baptist Church — the Kansas-based church infamous for picketing soldiers’ funerals, stomping American flags, and denouncing gays — plan to come to Philadelphia and demonstrate during the Democratic National Convention.

    Rebekah A. Phelps-Davis, whose father, Fred Phelps, is the church pastor who started the notorious pickets, applied for a city permit for a “peaceful religious demonstration featuring signs, banners, placards, flags and music” on July 26 and 27 at FDR Park, across the street from the Wells Fargo Center where the convention will be held, according to the city. Ten picketers are expected. The status of the application is listed as “pending.”

    The Southern Poverty Law Center considers Westboro Baptist Church a hate group.

    A total of 30 groups have applied for city permits, as of Thursday, city records show.

    Ten have been approved. Most notably, that includes the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, whose leader Cheri Honkala raised a stink — backed by a civil-rights lawsuitthe ACLU of Pennsylvania filed last week — when the city denied her permit application in May, citing a ban on rush-hour protests. Five hundred supporters plan an afternoon march July 25 from City Hall to FDR Park

    Her permit has been approved — although that was news to Honkala when she was contacted Thursday.

    “I’ll believe it when I see it,” Honkala said, adding that she doesn’t yet have a permit in hand and feared what restrictions the city might attach to it.

    Beyond Honkala’s group, the city has approved demonstration permits for: Black Men for Bernie’s We the People Restoration Rally (2,000 people, July 27 and 28, Thomas Paine Plaza); March for Bernie (3,000 people, July 26, Thomas Paine Plaza); Food & Water Watch’s March for Clean Energy Revolution (5,000 people, July 24, City Hall to Independence Mall); March for Bernie at DNC (30,000 people, July 24-28, FDR Park); March for Bernie (3,000 people, July 24, Thomas Paine Plaza); Jill Stein for President (300 people, July 25, FDR Park); Support Rally for Candidate Bernie Sanders (500-600 people, July 25, Marconi Plaza); Candlelight Vigil to Commemorate the Death of Democracy (8,000 people, July 25, FDR Park); and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ PFT Contract Demonstration (1,000 people, July 25, Marconi Plaza).

    Two groups were denied: The Equality Coalition for Bernie Sanders, which planned a march to protest “the unfair treatment of candidates by the DNC,” and Global Zero, which planned a demonstration involving an inflatable rocket to call for an end to nuclear weapons.

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