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Toe-to-toe with haters

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These guys were desperately in need of some help from a little ark builder named Noah, and it’s not because some consider them animals.

The handful of protestors who dared to bring their anti-Jewish, anti-gay, anti-Obama hate-speak to the borough found themselves drowning under wave upon wave of counter protestors who outnumbered them 30 to 1 at some points.

At every stop of this maniacal mystery tour that touched down in Brooklyn last Thursday and lasted until Saturday, protestors from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS, preaching of fire and brimstone, were met by fired-up residents who weren’t about to let hate rule the day.

“People are not allowed to tell me they hate me, my kids, my family and the people I love,” explained Ellen Spilka as she and over 100 other protestors out-shouted Westboro visitors carrying signs that read “Jews Killed Jesus” and “Mourn for your sins,” “Israel is doomed” and “Jews stole the land” outside Congregation Beth Elohim on Eighth Avenue in Park Slope on Saturday morning — one of five Jewish houses of worship they visited Saturday.

Protestors also engaged congregants at the Kane Street Synagogue in Carroll Gardens, the Union Temple of Brooklyn on Eastern Parkway, Congregation Shomrei Emunah on 14th Avenue in Borough Park and the East Midwood Jewish Center at Ocean Avenue near Avenue K.

On Thursday, the Westboro crew -- seven in all, including children -- dropped their hate-laden verbal bombs on students at Brooklyn Tech High School.

Students and residents returned fire, with a field of over 200 strong protesting the protestors.

“This family...they’re out of their minds,” said Joe Nardiello, a Republican City Council candidate for the 39th District who happened on the protest. “I understand that freedom of speech allows them to say what they want but this was ridiculous.”

Nardiello said that the students, armed with placards and stickers, “protested against racism, against hate, were pro-Jewish and in support of Obama” -- everything Westboro Church members rallied for.

“It was a wonderful thing to see,” he said.

The kooky Kansan contingent rolled up to the school in a mini-van with New Jersey plates and came armed with their colorful placards “that looked like they came out of Kinkos, although I don’t know if a Kinkos would print them.”

“I asked them where the other half of the horse was because it was obvious that they brought the horse’s asses with them,” he said.

“Wherever they go throughout Brooklyn, they will be met by residents ready to reject their message of hate,” predicted City Councilmember Letitia James. “Homophobia will not be tolerated.”

“Sadly, these church members are getting exactly what they seek, more attention; yet and still, we must continue to protest their extreme religious views and antics,” she said.

At 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning -- the day before Jews across the borough marked Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calender -- extremist church members warmed up to some down-home, “we don’t take kindly to hate-mongers” Brooklyn hospitality at the East Midwood Jewish Center, where they were met by 15 outraged congregants and area residents.

The two groups faced off and hurled insults at each other but nothing got out of hand.

“Words were exchanged but there was no violence,” said one cop at the scene. “They were only there for about 24 minutes.”

The Topeka tweakers then took their road show to Borough Park and then to Park Slope, where they got more than they bargained for at Congregation Beth Elohim.

Congregants and Park Slope residents outnumbered them 16 to one, waving peace banners and placards that read “Jesus had 2 dads” and “We say NO! to Racism, Anti-Semitism, Homophobia and Hate.”

Borough President Marty Markowitz and State Senator Eric Adams joined the crowd, which countered every insult spoken by the protestors led by Shirley-Phelps Roper, the attorney and spokesperson for the group, as well as the daughter of the pastor of the Westboro church.

“No mercy for the merciless — and get rid of those beanies!” Phelps-Roper shouted from their rallying point across the street. “Stop raping the little boys and obey God!”

Their cries were drowned out by counter protestors inspired to continue by Rabbi Andy Bachman of Congregation Beth Elohim as he ran to the top of the synagogue steps and blew the shofar, a ceremonial horn used to ring in the new year.

After visiting the Union Temple, Westboro Church members went to the Kane Street synagogue, where they were met by a smaller, but just as virulent group of counter protestors.

Despite being booed out of town, Westboro members held fast to their belief that they were actually warning borough Jews.

“[The Jews’] time is about gone and they have to be held accountable for spilling the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ,” explained Phelps-Roper during a recent interview with this paper, during a rambling conversation labeled with offensive remarks and warped bible citations. “We want them to understand that we will be the fateful witnesses in the spirit of grace and supplication and that we will mourn for them when their time comes.”

From the outpouring of love and support seen in Brooklyn Saturday, that “time” is far, far, far off.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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