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Redondo Beach Students, Former Mayor Stage Counter-Protest Against Westboro Baptist Church

REDONDO BEACH ( — A Kansas church group best known for its controversial protests at military funerals and other events rallied outside a Redondo Beach high school Monday.

Westboro Baptist Church picketed outside Redondo Union High School at 1 Sea Hawk Way, where protesters stood holding signs with now-familiar messages including "Repent or perish" and "God sent the drought".

While no immediate reason was provided for the demonstration, a message posted last month (PDF) on the group's website read: "Westboro Baptist Church will go to the Redondo Union High School Wasteland to warn the living. We do not know if there is a little soul that will hear these words and heed the warning and escape the wrath that is coming upon this earth."

In response, former Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin and other members of the community joined with Redondo Union students and faculty to stage a counter-protest on the steps of the school.

"In Los Angeles County, we support our high school students, instead of putting them down, and will not tolerate out-of-state extremists bullying our youngsters with hate speech," said Gin, the first openly gay Republican Mayor in California. "The protesters can pack their bags and head back to Kansas where they came from.

Some Westboro members didn't seem surprised by the community's opposition to their message.

"This response is the same response that we've gotten for the past 25 years, there's nothing new under the sun," said one Westboro protester. "They talk about love, what they really mean is, 'Let me do whatever I want to do and don't say a word about it'....That is not the definition of love that you find in the Scriptures."

The protest ended around 10:30 a.m. without incident.

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