Followers of notorious anti-gay protester Fred Phelps
visited Portland this morning, armed with signage listing the various people they claim God hates ("fags," Germans, and you, to name a few).
Phelps' group comes from Topeka, Kansas and Westboro Baptist Church
, where Phelps is the pastor. Tour stops include three locations in downtown Portland today: Portland State University (because of its decision to open gender-neutral bathrooms); the Swedish Consulate (because "God hates Sweden"); and the German Consulate (because "God REALLY hates Germany").
At PSU, about 200 counter-demonstrators gathered across the street from the Phelps followers who held signs on the corner of SW 13th Ave. and SW Market. Some tried to engage the visitors from Topeka in conversation, asking why they oppose gender-neutral bathrooms. But the two young women and one older man from Westboro stayed silent. (Phelps himself didn't make an appearance.)
PSU student Kayla Harrison (pictured below) said she had been out in the brisk autumn morning since 7 am holding a sign to protest the protesters from Westboro.
"It's our duty as college students -- and as people -- to be out here right now," she said.
The group's plan to protest the Swedish Consulate was foiled by the discovery that Portland doesn't have a Swedish Consulate. (The city had an honorary Swedish Consulate until earlier this year, when it closed
But three Phelps followers were back in action at the German Consulate as scheduled later in the morning, this time facing about 20 counter-protesters who waved signs and rainbow flags from across the street.
"We know your research isn't that good because we don't have a Swedish Consulate, but we do have a gay mayor," a counter-protester shouted at the Westboro demonstrators from across the street. "City Hall is only a couple of blocks away. We could introduce you to Sam; he's a lovely man."
From Portland, the Westboro group is scheduled to head to Silverton, Oregon, to protest the town's transgender mayor, Stu Rasmussen