If the Westboro Baptist Church arrives in Austin tomorrow, they will not be allowed to protest on UT’s campus.
The Church’s current agenda shows it intends to pickett and protest Wednesday morning at the Texas Capitol, the University campus and the Camp Mabry Texas National Guard base. Listed as a hate-group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Westboro is an unaffiliated Baptist church from Topeka, Kan. that has gained notoriety over the last decade for protesting at military funerals, engaging in anti-semitic protests and aiding actions against gay, lesbian, transgender and queer people.
The church has a reputation for not arriving at scheduled picketing protests, however, and may not appear.
Cindy Posey, spokeswoman for UTPD, said it was within UT policy to prevent Westboro from entering campus.
“Only UT Austin students, faculty and staff are permitted to hold events on campus,” Posey said. “Consistent with our policy, UTPD will not allow external organizations, including [Westboro], to protest on campus. This policy is consistent with the reasonable time, place and manner requirements of the U.S. Constitution."
Journalism senior Cody Permenter, who started one of several Facebook groups for counter-protests when Westboro arrives in Austin, is helping to put together a counter-protest at the Texas Capitol.
“The intent of the protest is to get people who feel they have been targeted by this hate group a chance to go out there and express their feelings in a manner of love, compassion and peace,” Permenter said. “The reason for this rally is to shine some light into the darkness of their hate.”
Permenter said he believes Westboro still has a right to free speech, however, and said he hopes students avoid confronting or getting too close to the church members.