Westboro to picket Milwaukee area churches, Miller Park
MILWAUKEE- A controversial congregation infamous for protesting soldiers' funerals is planning demonstrations at several of Wisconsin's largest churches this Sunday, along with the State Capitol and Miller Park next week.
Rachel Hockenbarger is a member of Westboro Baptist Church and says she will be among the picketers traveling to Milwaukee.
"You're going to see some bright and colorful signs, being held in the hands of some sincere, really the only sincere humans in this nation," Hockenbarger told TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray. "The churches are to blame specifically for the destruction that's upon America right now."
According to its website, Westboro scheduled protests at seven Milwaukee area churches Sunday morning: Hales Corners Lutheran, Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee, Grace Lutheran in Milwaukee, Oak Creek Assembly of God, Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist downtown and Christian Faith Fellowship Church of God in Milwaukee.
A message on the Hales Corners Lutheran Church's website urges churchgoers to 'just smile, be friendly and don't get caught up in their rhetoric.'
Hales Corners police are also preparing for the picket.
"An area will be designated for the group to have their demonstration," Lt. Steven Murphy wrote in an email. "Extra personnel will be assigned to provide a safe and secure environment for all citizens."
Most church leaders are urging members to peacefully ignore the Westboro demonstration.
"They try to get people upset. That's their whole goal," said Oak Creek Assembly of God spokesperson Christine Jacobs. "The Bible says we are to live in peace with everyone, that we are to do everything in love. That's our approach."
Chris Krasovich wants to send a different message. She is using Facebook to organize a counter-protest.
"I think doing nothing is a mistake," Krasovich said. "I think we have a real opportunity to come out and express what we as people of faith, as people who are members of the Milwaukee community hold dear."
Westboro is also planning to protest at Miller Park and the Wisconsin State Capitol next week.