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14 March 2008

Message Update on the Million Fag March 30th of March 2008

First, the bad news...

I finally heard from the city of Topeka regarding what we can and can't do. And there are two pretty major "can'ts" that are going to affect us. But before you decide all is lost, please read all the way through and see what we've come up with.

The first "can't" involves "picketing a private residence." The WBC is considered a private church, and therefore falls under the same rules as a private home. In short: we can't picket directly outside the Westboro Baptist Church.

Trust me. I hear your thoughts, and I understand completely.

The second "can't" (which doesn't really matter so much after the first) is that the city attorney's office feels this many people in the street constitutes a parade. Had they informed me of this earlier, I could have attempted to get the proper permits. And in fact, I was told on one occasion that we would NOT be needing any permits.

The officer I spoke with, however, thought the city might deny our permit anyway, based on the streets we'd have to block. We won't even discuss what this would have done to the cost of our little grass roots event. (On the plus side, we're freed from any prior time contraints.)

Not surprisingly, there aren't any sidewalks in that area, which might have given us some leeway. So, yeah. Those thoughts you're still having? I had them, too. But read on...

What do we do then?

Well, if we can't focus our attention on the WBC specifically, we'll just have to let the entire city of Topeka know why we're there. A great way to do that is to line ourselves up along a major street where we can't be ignored. And there happens to be one not so far from the WBC. While we're at it, why not take over one of the nicest parks in town as our base of operations?

Next, we let the Phelps know where we'll be. Some have commented that the WBC probably wouldn't know we existed if we weren't outside during their service. Let me assure you: They know we're coming. But just so we're positive, I'll personally send them an invitation letting them know where we'll be and when (don't worry, I'm getting to that). I'll even ask them to come speak with us. I notice a certain date is conspicuously absent from their picket schedule, so I'd bet they're free that day.

In other words, the only way we won't see them is if they decide they don't want to be seen.

So, where will we be? Ah, now for the details.

  • - On March 30th, 2008 at 11:00 AM, everyone should gather at Gage Park, located at the corner of 10th St and Gage Blvd in Topeka. There should be plenty of parking right across 10th Street.
  • - At that time, we will hold a pre-March rally hosted by Jack E. Jett, featuring the music of Oreaganomics, Bill Boll, and perhaps a few others.
  • - At the conclusion of our rally, the March begins! We'll line up down Gage Blvd (be sure to keep things legal and stay on the sidewalk!) Bring your signs, shirts, and any other Marching gear you see fit!
  • - We'll be free to make ourselves known well into the evening, with a police force to keep everyone safe.
  • - And yes, I really am going to invite the Phelps.
One other thing to brighten your day: you will undoubtedly want to see the church. Luckily, we will only be a couple of blocks away. And while this won't be officially MFM-sanctioned... well, I'll just tell you what the Topeka police officer told me. "They are still public streets." Just watch out for two things: Don't block street traffic, and don't take any "hate" signs directed at the Phelps clan past the church (this can be construed as "picketing" them. But you shouldn't have those anyway, because you're better than that). Signs that do not contain a hateful message will probably be fine.

So... that's it! Please send any feedback my way -- good or bad -- and I'll respond as soon as I can.
See you all in a couple of weeks, and you'll be hearing more from me between now and then. With your support, this year's "can'ts" will become small hurdles for next year's 2nd Annual MFM.

- Chris Love

Million Fag March @ Westboro Baptist Links


Anonymous said...

First, if a police officer in Topkea told you to not take "hateful" signs past the church, but perhaps signs that do not contain hateful messages would be okay, the police officer clearly does not understand the law. The residential picket law is "content nuetral", so if "non-hateful" signs are acceptable, so are "hateful" signs.

Also, if you asked the city officials (apparently, though, not the police), you would learn that there are two different laws that you are dealing with. First is the "residential picketing" law. This law says you cannot picket "Private Residences". A church is by definition not a "private residence". However, since WBC is in the heart of a residential neighborhood, you have to make sure you do not "target" the homes around the church. The law defines "targeted picketing", so you should be able to get a good picture of that if you do your homework.

The other law is "church picketing" law, and it has a lot of components. If you picket a church (regardless of the message content), you are violating the law -- assuming the church has posted their meeting date/time -- both beginning and ending time -- both in the newspaper and on the premesis. If those conditions are met, you have to be at least 50 feet from any sidewalk used as a primary point of entry. For WBC, this essentiall means you would have to stay across either Orleans street or 12th street. Of course, you cannot be actually on their property.

Being on Gage is certainly fine, and you'll get a whole lot more traffic. WBC knows you're there -- and they don't care. What you're doing is going to give WBC even more press. How cool is that?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm Chris Love an organizer of the MFM. Sorry I don't have proof, you'll just have to trust me. Anonymous caught me in just the right mood to respond.

The WBC DOES seem to care, judging by the fact that some of them are getting out of town, and the rest are holding an "extended service."

But you just go ahead and keep saying that if we ignore them, they'll go away. It's been working so well for the last 20 years.

And trust me, the laws have been made clear. But I'll be happy to explain them again on the site.

Anonymous said...

The Topeka cops visited my 85 year old mother March 26 looking for me so they can warn me not to do anything unlawful. The called my place of work and left a phone number, which I called. It was the cops. They had a picture of me from 1992 which the Phelps' took. So it is obvious that the Church gave the picture to the cops. I am going anyway.

Richard Adams

give medals 4 killing men but 4 loving men they wish you were dead?

give medals 4 killing men but 4 loving men they wish you were dead?
thanks to the sacrifice of many the scourge of Dont Ask Dont Tell in the land of the free and home of the brave will be gone by the end of June!!!!