Photographs of how Huntsville responded to the "Westboro Baptist Church" protesting the funeral of Nicole Ford.
(An update on the community-wide response.)
First off, I'd like to thank everyone for your generous support, and am sorry that there is not time to reply to all of you individually. There has been a wonderful response! We have received $1160.00 in straight contributions, and pledges of $935.00 per hour. More support is still rolling in. After the funeral today, an amount of $2406.72 has been raised.
As some of you may have heard, the Huntsville police gave Fred Phelps a permit only for 45 minutes, from 11:15 until noon, at which time the funeral was scheduled to begin. When I arrived about 10:30, there was a big police presence, and I love what they set up for a demonstration space for Phelps! They parked two city buses in front of the small space reserved for them, completely hiding them from public view.
We were allowed to stand on the other side of the street. A good number of counter-protestors showed up (see picture below). Most of them carried positive signs, like "Respect the Funeral", "Respect Grief", and "God is Love".
Rebecca Smith and I stood with two signs. One stated "Huntsville Cares", and the other said (at the end of the protest) "$2100 for Lee High Families and AAC"
Here you see the demonstration space (behind the two buses). We could hear the Westboro people shouting and singing over there, but the only time we could see them was when they left, shortly after noon.
Here's Rebecca Smith with our signs, standing in the counter-protest area.
I doubt that the Westboro demonstrators even saw our signs, but the people going to the funeral were appreciative of everyone's support for the families. However, just to make sure that Fred Phelps knows, I will send a letter to the Westboro "Baptist Church" telling how their time was redirected for positive purposes.
That is probably it -- I understand now that the Phelps crowd is scheduled to be in Orlando tomorrow, so hopefully, no more funerals will be disrupted.
For those who missed previous updates, they are included below. We're working out details about payment so that donations will be tax-deductible, and will send out information on where to send your money later on this weekend. There will undoubtedly be more coming in, but for the moment, we have raised $1600.00 for the families of the kids in the bus crash, and $800 for Aids Action Coalition.
Thanks for caring, and for helping convert hatred into an awesome act of community!