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Maroon Wall stands for no show Westboro

Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013

Updated: Thursday, April 25, 2013 01:04



Participants of Maroon Wall for West and Red Wall against Westboro line up outside of the memorial service for Captain Kenny Harris in West, Texas on Wednesday.

Members of Maroon Wall for West and Red Wall against Westboro gathered Wednesday to discourage Wesboro Baptist Church from protesting at the memorial service for Captain Kenny Harris, a first responder to the West explosion.

The groups planned to meet after Westboro threatened to picket the funerals for those killed in the explosion, saying in a press release that the explosion was sent by God. The walls sought to protect the grieving families and friends from the picket.

Around 220 people participated in the walls — one at the memorial and one at the gravesite.

“It was really nice to show the family that the community is behind them,” said Sharon Colon, an organizer for Red Wall against Westboro. “We were able to accomplish our mission, which was to stand as a wall for the family.”

Despite the press release issued a few days prior to the memorial, Westboro Baptist Church did not show up.

“Westboro was not sighted,” said Ryan Slezia, organizer for Maroon Wall for West. “There was really no place for them to set up.”

Shaun Williams, a former marine who participated in the wall, was glad Westboro was not at the memorial.

“I think it was absolutely amazing Westboro wasn’t there,” Williams said. “There is no greater form of disrespect than to dishonor someone who dedicated their life to service in this country.”

Both organizations planned to be at three memorials this week to block the Westboro picketers, but will no longer have an organized meeting Thursday at Baylor University.

More than 4,000 uniformed first responders and President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are anticipated to attend the memorial at the Ferrell Center at Baylor.

In order for the walls to officially meet on Baylor’s campus, they need to obtain a permit from Baylor and the organizations have been unable to contact the University, Colon said.

Colon said Westboro was able obtain a permit and will be there.

Even though the walls are not going to Baylor as official groups, Slezia said people are still encouraged to attend the memorial.

The walls still have the memorial for William “Buck” Uptmor on Saturday marked on their calendars and expect a larger turnout of supporters.


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