Westboro Baptist Church announces visit to UMass

By Collegian News Staff

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Police escort Westboro Baptist protesters away from another group of protesters on the second day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, Tuesday, August 28, 2012. (Tiffany Tompkins-Condie/Bradenton Herald/MCT)

Police escort Westboro Baptist protesters away from another group of protesters on the second day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, Tuesday, August 28, 2012. (Tiffany Tompkins-Condie/Bradenton Herald/MCT)

The Westboro Baptist Church announced on their Twitter account that they will travel to the University of Massachusetts on Wednesday to protest the school’s support of Derrick Gordon’s announcement.

The church first tweeted on Thursday that they planned to do so and announced on Saturday evening that Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. would be when the campus will be graced with their presence.

In response, a group of UMass students has organized a march and demonstration called UMass United: #StandwithDerrick for Wednesday morning, “to show support and solidarity for our students.” The Facebook page for the event said that official details will be released Monday night after a planning meeting, but the time that the demonstration will begin at 11:45 a.m.

Derrick Gordon, who on Wednesday came out as the first openly gay Division I men’s basketball player, is a sophomore at the university. The campus community has shown through online social media to be in support of his decision.

The Westboro Baptist Church is known for extreme ideologies, especially those against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. It began as a branch of the East Side Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. After promoting Fred Phelps to pastor in 1955, the Westboro branch broke all ties with the East Side branch. The church began publicly protesting in 1991.

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