Westboro Baptist Church No-Shows at Zumwalt East Protest
Controversial church absent from planned protest at St. Peters high school.
Westboro Baptist Church failed to show up for planned protest at Fort Zumwalt East High School early Monday morning.
The protest was scheduled to begin at 6:55 a.m., but a counter-protest formed well before the scheduled start time. Students, parents and members of the St. Peters and St. Charles County community lined the sidewalks outside the entrance to East just waiting for Westboro protesters.
Waving rainbow flags and holding signs with slogans like "God is Love" and "Don't Hate," the rambunctious crowd kept warm on the cold and foggy Monday by cheering and chanting before school started. Cars honked horns to show support for the counter-protest.
And then they waited.
Soon 6:30 a.m. became 6:55 a.m. and there were no signs of the Westboro group. At 7:10 a.m. a St. Peters Police officer said he was given word that the WBC would not be coming to St. Peters, instead heading on to Clayton.
The counter-protesters didn't care that there was no protest to counter. Chanting things like "F Z E loves G A Y," the crowd of several dozen roared with delight as honking horns blared through the early morning sky as more and more students arrived to school.
As the clock ticked to 7:25 a.m., Zumwalt East students began to trickle into the building to start the day. Once people realized the protest was over, before it even ever began, the counter-protesters packed up their signs and headed home ending the peaceful rally.
St. Peters Police, including chief Tom Bishop, arrived on the scene to provide security for the event, but weren't needed. With Westboro's no-show, the rallying crowd was peaceful and morning was incident free.
Fort Zumwalt superintendent Dr. Bernard DuBray said the school had found out late Thursday that Westboro was planning to protest at the school. DuBray said the school met with police to plan for protesters who never came.
DuBray said he was unsure why East was a target for the Church's wrath.
"There was a flier that they put out that said they were responding to a student request, but we haven't heard anything about that," DuBray said.
DuBray said he had hoped that everyone would just ignore the Westboro protest, but that wasn't the case as dozens lined the sidewalk leading to the entrance of East.
"I'm not surprised," DuBray said. "... I think they want to support their school. The kinds of comments that Westboro made on their website and on their flier were pretty repulsive regarding our school. I think kids wanted to support the school."
Zumwalt East principal Dr. Henry St. Pierre was also hoping for a quiet morning.
"I'm a little disappointed that it's become this much of a distraction," he said.
Despite the distraction the event created, St. Pierre said he was pleased by the response.
"I heard from lots of graduates and students from our sister schools and schools in our county—and even outside our county who want to offer to support," St. Pierre said. "I think we've got a real mixture of people out there who want to support, to stand up for their school, their district and their fellow students. I'm happy for that, certainly."