Local Church Plans Peaceful Response When Demonstrators Protest at LGBTQ Rose Queen’s School

Published : Friday, February 22, 2019 | 12:48 PM

Hoping to avoid a confrontation with Westboro Baptist protestors but maintain the safety of its campus, Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church leaders will stage workshops focused on positive messages Feb. 24 and be on hand Monday during the demonstration to ensure student safety.

Westboro earlier announced plans to protest at Sequoyah High School, which is located on the Neighborhood Church campus, because it is attended by the first openly LGBTQ Rose Queen.

2019 Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel said in an interview in Pasadena Now last December that she is bisexual.

Westboro members are known for protests featuring messages of hate against the LGBTQ community, Jews and others and have targeted schools and even military funerals as venues for their activities. Siskel is also Jewish.

The Westboro group said in a Feb. 18 statement that Siskel has been schooled in a “doctrine of lies,” adding, “That poor child has been so saturated in filthiness, that she bragged about being a pervert of the deepest waters, honoring what God has called abominable.”

The Neighborhood Church is asking those who oppose Westboro’s beliefs and tactics not to counter-demonstrate on Monday.

Luis Sierra Campos, Neighborhood Church social justice and inclusion coordinator, said the church felt that a counter-demonstration would only play into the group’s message of confrontation and hatred.

So the plan is to stage peacekeeping training and poster-making workshops on Sunday, Feb. 24, that focus on generating positive messages through poster making. The resulting artwork is to be placed around campus the day of the demonstration, which is Feb. 25.

“The workshops are going to provide people with the ability to understand what nonviolent protesting is,” explained Campos, “to get a sense of how they can participate in an action without engaging or being provoked by an outside party.”

The poster-making will be conducted by two art therapists who will focus on the utility of creativity in moments when one is under attack. Their messages will be of love, respect, inclusion and equality, said Campos.

The trained peacekeepers, he explained, “will act as nonviolent guides for young people and parents. They will be there to escort the students to class.”

The Pasadena Police Department, said Campos, has said it will serve as a “buffer” between the Westboro Baptist Church demonstrators lined up across from the campus on Orange Grove Blvd. and the campus inhabitants.

Pasadena Police Department spokesman Jason Allen Clawson said the police are aware of the event, which requires no permit, because Westboro Baptist contacted the department.

“The information is being vetted and we will monitor the activities,” he said.

The workshop will take place at the Neighborhood House, Front Porch, Feb. 24 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Registration can be completed at bit.ly/nuuclove

For more information, call (626) 449-3470.

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