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BIGOTS TARGET MIDWOOD! Westboro Baptists hurl anti-Semitic garbage

The Brooklyn Paper
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Members of the bigoted Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church screamed a message of anti-Semitic hate in front of a Midwood Jewish school on Monday — but counter-protesters, including a genuinely enraged assemblyman, out-yelled the group.

Five members of the Fundamentalist church sang songs and waved signs telling Jews, “Your Doom is Coming!” for about 30 minutes outside Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin on Avenue I and E. 13th Street, one of three borough stops in a daylong hate rally.

The fringe church billed its arrival as the Godsmack Tour, a reminder to Jews that the vast majority of them “will be cast into everlasting fire in hell,” according to the church’s website, which is named godhatesfags.com.

“The Lord’s promises are good and he has promised to save 144,000 obedient Jews who hearken his commandments and repent,” the website warns. “The rest of the Jews represent the disobedient masses of mankind who will dwell eternally where the worm that eats them never dies and the fire ascends up forever and ever.”

But Midwood was having none of that.

The predominantly Jewish neighborhood was aghast at the chutzpah of the protesters, who minced and pantomimed with wide smiles behind a police barricade.

About 125 counter protesters hurled obscenities and insults right back at the church, whose membership is almost entirely comprised of one Topeka family.

“Go to hell!” chanted the crowd. “Hitler’s bitches!”

“Nazi scum will die!” was another popular chant.

But members of the church were unmoved.

“Look at this sorry substitute for obedience to God,” sneered Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of church founder Fred Phelps, as she surveyed the crowd.

Earlier in the day, the church picketed in Kensington at Chabad of Kensington and Yeshiva Torah Teminah, both on Ocean Parkway between Ditmas and 18th avenues.

The group was first expected at the Chaim Berlin’s upper school yeshiva, at Coney Island Avenue and Avenue M, where counter protesters initially clamored.

“You can’t ignore Nazis, otherwise you wind up in Auschwitz,” said A.J. Weberman, a Manhattan resident originally from Flatbush. “They are subhuman insects. They are scum.”

But not everyone wanted to silence the group.

Midwood resident Binyamin Jolkovsky said he supported the group’s First Amendment rights.

“It allows people to make asses out of themselves publicly,” he said.

It is ironic that the group chose Midwood to protest, considering the mostly devout neighborhood is largely anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage in the public square, Jolkovsky said.

“I can’t imagine what they’re protesting,” he said.

The crowd then made its way to the lower school, where it waited for about an hour, time enough to hear the Jewish Defense Organization tout its “legal weapons training” program.

“We don’t want to start something up, but they do — they are coming into our neighborhood” said Yitchak Friedman, a student at the yeshiva.

But the school’s principal, Rabbi Shlomo Klein, said protesting the church simply bolsters its feeling of self-importance.

“This is all ridiculous,” he said. “What are they accomplishing? It’s important to protest — but not when you’re dealing with immature people who are anti-everything.”

But residents such as Mike Meyers said the neighborhood would be making a mistake if it ignored the hate group.

“They are a bunch of lunatics, and they should feel unwelcome here,” he said. “We want to send a message so they go away.”

When church members suddenly arrived, the scene grew frenetic.

A few men — including Assemblyman Dov Hikind — rushed the barricades, baring their teeth as they attempted to grab the group’s signs. As one of the church members spoke to this newspaper, someone in the crowd twice doused him with water, and two plastic bottles were also hurled at the group.

“We’re just trying to tell the truth to people,” explained church member Timothy Phelps. “That’s the most loving thing to do.”

The church last visited the borough a year ago, and, in the meantime, has been protesting at funerals for soldiers killed in Iraq, claiming the soldiers are “dying for the homosexual and other sins of America.” The United States Supreme Court is currently weighing whether the group’s funeral protests are protected under the Constitution or an invasion of privacy.

Phelps denied the group was a neo-Nazi organization, as commonly perceived.

“We are preachers — they were a political party,” he said. “We will never lift a hand against a single Jew. We are just telling them what’s coming to them.”

In the crowd, about 15 young men in the crowd danced a horah, a festive Israeli circle dance. A trash truck driver rumbling along E. 13th Street expressed himself by repeatedly honking his horn, drowning out the churchgoers’ rant and delighting the crowd.

As quickly as it began, the spectacle was over, as church members were escorted by cops from the 70th Precinct into a maroon van.

“That was it?” wondered a boy on a bicycle, riding past the thinning crowd.

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Reasonable discourse

K. from ArKady says:
Funny thing; during the Republican National Convention in Manhattan a few years ago I watched many fellow citizens being denied their 1st amendment rights. Mass arrests, without cause, for legal protests against clear public political targets. The same police protecting the wonderful folks from WBC were the ones doing the arresting. I don't blame the police; just the people who issue their orders.
Oct. 12, 2010, 1:07 pm
Stacey from Downtown says:
Figures they're from kansas. Need we say more?
Oct. 12, 2010, 6:31 pm
Bill from Boca Raton says:
This is not a "church". Westboro is a HATE group.
Oct. 12, 2010, 6:43 pm
Dan from Park Slope says:
I think Bill from Boca is right on this one.
Oct. 12, 2010, 10:40 pm
Jimmy from Brooklyn says:
These freaks will not come back so soon ,, They had their tires slashed and windows mashed up, The local tower refused to help them.. kuddos for fellow brooklynites
Oct. 13, 2010, 6:34 am
Jenifer from Greenpoint says:
Having seen these people up close and personal I know that they are pathedic and not a threat . They are more like a cult, With cult a like mentality. They feed off the
media and the attention. Cut off the attention and they will be left with nothing.
I mean there was only 4-5 of them. If left alone they will just look ridiculous . By us counter-protesting we are giving them status that they do not deserve.

Oct. 13, 2010, 10:49 am
Yitzchak Friedman from Midwood says:
I am quoted in your article as saying “We don’t want to start something up, but they do — they are coming into our neighborhood.” This is incorrect on two counts: First, though I was at the protest, I never said anything of the sort, second I did not speak to your reporter or any other one.

I would appreciate it if you removed this erroneous quote.
Oct. 13, 2010, 12:11 pm
Al Rodbell from California says:
Article is unclear about this:

As quickly as it began, the spectacle was over, as church members were escorted by cops from the 70th Precinct into a maroon van.

Does this mean they were arrested, or did they volunteer to be escorted to the Precinct. This is crucial since at this moment the Supreme Court is deciding whether this type of speech is protected. In general, it is.

So the police would be obligated to protect the church group from the community.

alvrdb-brt@yahoo.com for anyone with an answer.
Oct. 14, 2010, 4:29 pm
Tammany Hall alive and well from Brooklyn says:
Yitzchak
A lot of licence was taken with quotation, you were'nt the only causualty, though it should read perhaps that you were overheard to say... Others were misqouted entirely.
Al
The WBC got into thier own (rented) van with a police escort (protection). Several people attempted to block their way by standing in front of the van and were violently shoved back by police. One man who lunged too close was thrown across the street on the hood of a car by police. A man who spoke up for him was threatened by a "community affairs "officer.

Although even "hate groups" are entitled to free speech, and there was no shortage of fringe elements counter protesting, if the police had acted that way in Manhattan, YouTube would be rife with videos of their misconduct and a responsible paper would be reporting on that. It's unfortunate that instead this paper panders to photo opportunists like Dov Hikkund who show up on que and then wait for the microphone to be put in front of them (see "And Dov turns into a Bear" also by this reporter).
Brooklyn is a big back slapping field day for the police, politicians, and the press; nobody points a finger or upsets the apple cart.
I'll take Manhattan where at least there is some accountability some of the time.
You can have the shtetl that is Flatbush
Oct. 14, 2010, 9:43 pm
Al Rodbell from California says:
My concern that the Westborough Baptists would not have their rights protected didn't turn out to be the case. It was the Jews who were bashed for behaving inappropriately, but understandably.

Manhattan is different. I attended a small demonstration on second avenue and 85th street by Neo Nazis a half century ago. The Jews in the crowd could not be controlled by the police as they stormed the group and took their American Flag that they were using as protection. There was no attempt by the police to arrest the man who grabbed their flag, and the Neo Nazis were escorted away.

There is constitutional law, and then there is its implementation. The chasm between the two is broader than the time and distance between my Manhattan experience under the Eisenhower administration, and what occurred in Midwood last week.

Police operate by their own rules, only slightly contained by the political powers that be. Their autonomy is as rampant in the Suburbs of San Diego as in Brooklyn. I guess it's a type of home rule that we like when it works in our favor.

But watch out if your not the favored group.
Oct. 15, 2010, 8:39 pm
Stephaine says:
This is not anti semitism. These jews who bring nazis into this are just as fanatical and nutty as this church.
Oct. 17, 2010, 4:59 pm
Joe Nardiello from Carroll Gardens says:
They're still putting "the ass in Kansas". This is less speech, and more about doing 'hate' as an odd, family travel-business. Our media has to just ignore them. And, if only Kinkos would suspend their poster-printing account?
Oct. 19, 2010, 5:08 pm

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