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.
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