Counter-protesters outnumber Westboro Baptist Church group

Westboro Baptist returns to Richmond
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -- The picket signs of the Westboro Baptist Church were on display on Monday in Richmond, but they were outnumbered by counter-protesters.

According to the Kansas-based group’s website, the first stop was the State Capitol where members spoke out against Delegate Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person elected to the General Assembly, calling her a “treasonous enemy of God."

Roem turned it into a positive on social media, using hashtag #WestboroBackfir, and asking supporters to raise money for her re-election campaign.

So far it's raised more than $30,000.

Counter-protesters far outnumbered the Westboro Baptist Church members on Monday morning.

The church group also planned to protest at Virginia Commonwealth University later Monday morning, where members say students are “familiar with all manner of perversion.”

The university tweeted a statement saying the group will be occupying public property, adding that it did not invite the church and the church does not reflect VCU’s core values.

VCU did acknowledge that the church’s right to protest is protected under the First Amendment.

“It’s not the best idea but if it’s a peaceful protest in the same way that many people here have protested peacefully then, of course, it’s okay," said freshman Amel Aksouh.

Another freshman, Aisha Khalifa, added, “it’s their right to come and protest if they want to, but at the same time, it’s very disrespectful to people that are in the Muslim or LGBTQ communities.”

Regardless, it doesn’t seem that Westboro Baptist will be getting any warm welcomes from students.

“I think they’re a bunch of loud idiots," said freshman Miriam Koch.

“They never have anything nice or helpful to say, and this isn’t the kind of environment where they should be sharing their opinions," said junior Matthew Cattanio.

In response, the school will be holding VCU Unity, an event meant to celebrate VCU’s diverse community.

It will feature meditation, yoga and discussions with LGBTQ and student military groups.

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