THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (KABC) —
Westboro Baptist Church members held signs, including one that read “God sent the shooter,” as they gathered outside Thousand Oaks High School Monday morning.
That specific sign appeared to reference the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, where 12 victims were shot and killed by a lone gunman. Thousand Oaks High School students were among the victims in the shooting.
Other signs held by the group, which totaled less than five individuals, read, “God’s wrath is revealed,” “Destruction is imminent” and “The wages of sin is death.”
The event remained peaceful on both sides.
The group was faced with a much larger group of counterprotesters who held signs of their own across the street. Some of the counter-protesters’ signs read, “Pride = Love,” “You are loved,” “TOHS Pride,” and “#TOStrong.”
Westboro Baptist Church sent out the following statement, in part, prior to Monday’s event:
“WITH PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING ON OUR LIPS, THE FOLLOWERS OF THE ONE TRUE CHRIST WILL PREACH HIS WORD AND MESSAGE OF REPENTANCE TO THE STUDENTS AND FACULTY OF THOUSAND OAKS HIGH SCHOOL AFTER THE MASS SHOOTING IN NOVEMBER ON MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11.”
Also, Dr. Mark McLaughlin, Superintendent of Conejo Valley Unified School District, released the following statement, in part, prior to Monday’s event:
“Regarding the activity scheduled for Monday morning, we are fortunate to have a strong partnership with the Thousand Oaks Police Department and we continue to be in communication with them about the scheduled demonstration. The District does not condone or support any of the messages publicized by the WBC, however it is unlawful for the District to attempt to “ban” or silence this group per their rights under the First Amendment. WBC wants attention for their activities, counter demonstrations by some individuals may take place, but ignoring them is thought to be the most effective response.”
The Westboro Baptist Church, which is based in Topeka, Kansas, is widely considered a hate group for its inflammatory speech – particularly against the LGBTQ community, soldiers and other religions.
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