It wasn’t long before protesters dominated both sides of Arapahoe Avenue in front of Boulder High School. Transsexuals, gays, bisexuals, straights, even a man dressed in a squirrel costume holding a sign “Free Hugs” gathered for an anti-Westboro protest.
Westboro is a radical hate group from Kansas who label themselves Baptists and are known for attending funerals of soldiers who died in Iraq and attributing the deaths as God’s way of telling America homosexuality is wrong. They also dislike Jews, President Obama and pretty much everything else (and probably puppies, too).
Adults as well as children boldly showed them selves on behalf of Westboro, sporting glares and offensive signs, like “Obama is the Anti-Christ” and “God Hates Fags” in front of Boulder High for 30 minutes.
“It’s a little [disturbing] to see six-year-olds out there holding signs when they don’t even know what it means,” says Colin Hill, a graduate at A&M University who lives in one of the houses occupying Arapahoe Avenue. “They’re too young, they can’t decide for themselves. It’s just a shame.”
It was obvious they were out numbered as Boulder High’s security and city police stood back and occasionally yelled out to a few gangly teenagers and press to stay off the grass. On the grass means you were on school property. And that just wasn’t allowed.
Boulder High School lit up the announcement board that was facing Arapahoe Avenue. Words like “tolerance,” “compassion” and “love” appeared on screen and every now and then, a clip of the Beetles song “all you need is love” played from the roof of the restaurant across the street.
“I don’t know why Westboro even bothered showing up,” said Nathan Peterson, a theater sophomore major at CU Boulder. “No one believes what they’re saying anyway. I feel like they’re just wasting their energy.”
In the height of protest at Boulder High, Westboro faced several hundred counter-protesters, ranging from high school students to the elderly. But Boulder maintained the peace despite some mildly rude language.
“I’m surprised, it was very well organized,” said Michael Perkins, who attends the CU Denver. “I’m proud of Boulder, it shows we’re brave enough to take a stand for something that matters while keeping it under control.”