Around 80 people showed up to counter protest the Westboro Baptist Church on Thursday at the National Weather Service, many of whom were University of Oklahoma students.
WBC was picketing at the weather center to remind people “only by God’s mercy and power” do people gather intelligence on “His” weather, according to the group’s press release.
“This is dumb. My thing is that they protest kids’ funerals and that doesn’t fly with me,” said Joe Acord, who works for the weather company.
It was Acord’s day off, but he wanted to show up to support the counter protestors.
“I was up at the Moore one when they came and protested the kids that died in the schools during the tornadoes in 2013,” he said. “The reason for them coming down here was to basically say that God is the only one that forecasts the weather. We all know the people that work here are professionals that know what they’re doing.”
Acord called the group clowns, which many seemed to agree with. Several church members were surprised WBC would choose the weather center, of all places, to protest.
“I think it’s really silly. I’m amused by it,” said Norman resident Brian Johnson, who was with his daughter, Harper, counter protesting. “I think we should have an inclusive society and I think that’s what the Westboro Baptist Church is against.”
The group, which included around five members, parodied a number of songs, making the crowd laugh. Some also responded with songs of their own.
OU students Andrew Willoughby and Emma Dillon said the group was “grasping at straws,” and since the group often makes money from the protests through lawsuits, it “renders a lot of what they say invalid.”
During the hour of protest the situation stayed relatively calm. It was as the group went to leave that things began to intensify.
Counter protestors rushed over to the church members’ van as the WBC began packing up its signs. One member began to speak about the reason why the church was there, and counter protestors yelled out several hateful comments.
“Instead of giving him the glory, every reporter who put their mouth to the discussion says ‘it’s mother nature,’” the church member said, talking about the weather, adding that everyone is giving the credit to a false prophet.
Comments like “Burn Westboro” and “Did you eat paint chips as a kid?" were shouted out as the woman spoke out for several minutes before the group left.