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Maplewood Police Chief: Westboro Baptist Church Has Right to Peaceful Protest

Westboro Baptist will protest the Maplewood Richmond Heights production of The Laramie Project on Saturday. Maplewood police will be there to keep the peace.

Maplewood Police learned about Westboro Baptist Church’s plans to picket at Maplewood Richmond Heights on Oct. 16, and will be at the planned protest on Saturday, Oct. 20.

MRH High School is producing The Laramie Project, a play that promotes tolerance towards gays, and Westboro Baptist Church is know for its harsh protests against tolerance, and gays in general.

Maplewood chief Steve Kruse received a letter from an attorney representing Westboro Baptist Church, notifying him they were going to protest The Laramie Project, and wanted police protection.

Kruse said he was told that about six to eight protesters will protest before the Saturday, Oct. 20 matinee performance.

“They stated that they plan on doing a peaceful protest, that they will obey all local laws, and that they are worried about counter-protesters,” Kruse said.

MRH students plan to counter-protest Westboro Baptist.

He said the designated protest area is at Martini Avenue and Manchester Road.

“It’s going to last for 45 minutes and when they are done they will get in their vehicles and go back to Topeka, Kansas,” he said.

“Everybody has a right to exercise their freedom of speech, as long as no laws are broken, the peace is maintained, and that is what we want,” he said. “We’ll be there to insure nothing happens.”

Westboro Baptist protested at Clayton High School in February.

Clayton Chief of Police Thomas Byrne, said he heard from the group before the protest, just like Kruse did. He said there were no problems at the protest.

“We kept them separated, and Westboro doesn’t do a real long thing,” he said. “They’re only there for about 15-20 minutes, then they leave. If everybody keeps cool heads shouldn’t be any problem.”

More from Patch about Westboro Baptist and The Laramie Project:

Westboro Baptist to Picket MRH Play on Homosexuality and Tolerance

MRH Will Respond to Westboro Baptist Church Picket

See more on Westboro Baptist Church visits to the area:

Replay: Westboro Baptist Church Protests in Clayton and St. Peters

Westboro Baptist Church Schedules Clayton High School Protest

VIDEO: Westboro Baptist Church Protests at Clayton High School

Correction: The article previously stated that Chief Steve Kruse heard from the Westboro Baptist attorney on Aug. 16. The correct date is Oct. 16.

mormit October 20, 2012 at 09:46 PM
The Maplewood Police Department did an excellent job today. I am proud of the MRH students and community for keeping it positive, peaceful, and not taking the bait. "Rev" Phelps is a con-man. What the WBC does is use every inflammatory method possible, with out quite crossing the limit of what is legal, in order to bait someone into reacting. Then they sue that person, the police dept, the owner of the property they are on. That is how they can afford to travel all over the place like this. MRH showed today that we will not sink to their level.

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