“OPD received a letter from WBC today saying they intend to be here 6/18 to demonstrate. Not clear how many plan to come,” Orlando Police said June 16 in a tweet. Earlier in the day police said rumors that Westboro would be in the city were false.
The WBC has picketed at funerals after other mass shootings and tragedies, including in San Bernardino after the terror attack there last year.
After the shooting on June 12, which left 49 people dead and 53 wounded, Westboro put out a video and statement saying that God sent the shooter to Orlando and “gay pride” and “prayers only make it worse.”
Westboro wrote in a statement:
Earlier today, the worst mass shooting in American history occurred at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, whose owner describes it as the “hottest gay nightclub in Orlando.” The main entertainment for the night was to be performances by “The Princess”, a drag queen from Chicago, and cheap alcohol served by “Orlando’s hottest shot boys.” Instead, a deranged man, with an allegiance to ISIS, showed up with an assault rifle, killing 50 and sending 53 more to the hospital. And the number of dead is likely to increase.
Everyone from Barak Obama on down is taking the myopic view that this has something to do with gun control, or Islam, or homophobia, or fill in the blank. Here is reality, and make no mistake about this: God sent the shooter. He is the source. He is the fountainhead. He appointed this thing. He is sending you a message.
Westboro has also sent out a series of tweets about the planned protests and the shooting, including a video mocking efforts by Orlando residents to prevent them from picketing:
In other tweets, Westboro said they will be preaching Saturday:
It is not clear if Westboro will be at any specific funeral, or will just have a presence in Orlando:
They have also taunted CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who has become emotional at times while reporting on the victims:
A group has come forward, Orlando United for Love, to hold counter protests against Westboro Baptist, according to a Facebook page. The group said in a post Thursday afternoon that they are awaiting permits for their counterprotest activity:
We are finalizing the permit for Saturday. We expect final approval tomorrow. The day will be long – we are looking at 10:00 a.m. Saturday to 2:00 a.m. Sunday.
Here is what you need:
-Earplugs or earphones if you choose.
-Blocking materials (angel wings, etc.)
If you would like to donate water, snacks, garbage bags, or other supplies, you can bring them to the event Saturday (ice is also good). All trash you create you must take with you when you go. Let’s keep The City Beautiful, beautiful.
We will release more details as they become available. Thank you all for your continued support.