Controversial Kansas church protests local schools

CINCINNATI - The controversial Kansas church known for protesting at military funerals held a protest outside of Oak Hills High School in Green Township Tuesday afternoon.

Members of the church protested at the high school on Ebenezer Road from 2:40 p.m. to 3:10 p.m. The members then traveled to Miami University to protest from 4:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

More than 200 counter-protesters showed up at Oak Hills to voice their displeasure with the church.

Members of the church didn't say much in return, only holding signs and blaring the song "Another One Bites the Dust," on a portable boom box.

Churchmember Shirley Phelps-Roper spoke to Channel 9 contemptuously of the counter-demonstrators. "You see this scena across the street. This nation's destruction is upon them. And yet these people are over here worshipping the flag, and worshiping the soldiers and carrying on like silly, clueless brutes."

The church says on its website that, "Oak Hills High School, a typical Doomed american (with as small 'a') high school, is just another place where the children of this nation are taught that God is a liar and that his commandments are just suggestions."

There was a heavy police presence at the school, with about 20 Green Township police officers and deputies from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office on the scene.

Oak Hills dismissed students early at 12:50 p.m. Parents were allowed to pick up students until 2:30 p.m. or after 3:15 p.m. when the protest wrapped up.

Alice Hennessey showed up to take her daughter home early. "I don't like the group, of course, but they're entitled to their free speech," she says.

She says she was happy to hear the students were dismissed early. "When we first heard about them coming to Oak Hills, we were talking about not even sending our daughter to school. Safety of the students is primary."

Oak Hills freshman Indigo Hall wore a shirt that read, 'homo intended' followed by a happy face icon.

She says what the Westboro church is doing is bullying. "It's just very rude that it's like they're provoking us."

Oak Hills Superintendent Todd Yohey said while he disagrees with the church's message, protesters do have a right to free speech under the First Amendment.

He says he plans for the experience to be a teaching moment with the students about the Constitution.

The church protested at Miami University because it is the "home of the First Amendment hating cowards who have no courage of their convictions regarding academic freedom," the group posted on the website.

The group also protested at Ohio State University from 11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Tuesday. They plan to protest at Hilliard Davidson High School in Hilliard, Ohio from 7:10 a.m. to 7:40 a.m. Wednesday.

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