A Westboro Baptist Church protest was overshadowed Friday when demonstrators dressed as zombies gathered at a DuPont, Wash. military base to counter the radical group's efforts.
After members of the controversial Kansas-based church announced plans to picket Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a military base south of Seattle, 27-year-old Melissa Neace decided to organize a counter-protest, launching a Facebook group titled "Zombie'ing Westboro Baptist Church AWAY from Fort Lewis!"
"We wanted to turn something negative around, into something people could laugh at and poke fun at," Neace told the News Tribune. "It was the easiest way to divert attention from something so hateful."
About 300 counter-protesters showed up in varying degrees of zombie garb, far outnumbering the picketers from Westboro. According to KIRO in Seattle, just eight protesters from the controversial group showed up.
"I think that their message is very hateful, and Jesus was not a hateful person. He loved everybody," one of the counter-protesters told KIRO.
While it is unclear why Westboro Baptist Church targeted the DuPont military base for its latest effort, the group frequently pickets military funerals. The group believes that deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are God's punishment for the United States' tolerance of homosexuality. Last year, the group announced it would "quadruple" protest efforts after the Supreme Court ruled that such demonstrations are protected by the First Amendment.
However, counter-protests like the zombie effort in DuPont are becoming increasingly popular. Earlier this month, thousands of people in red shirts formed a human wall around a fallen soldier's funeral to block the anti-gay protesters. At a similar protest at Texas A&M University, students dressed in maroon formed a circle around a funeral and seemingly discouraged Westboro protesters from ever showing up.
Below, a closer look at Texas A&M's "maroon wall" demonstration:
Kelsey Rae Dickson