USC student activists organized a counter protest against members of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) that gathered close to campus on Monday morning.
Members of the religious organization, who are known for their outspoken hatred of the LGBTQ community, held protests at four locations throughout Los Angeles on Monday, including USC and UCLA. Five adults and one child from WBC arrived at the corner of Expo and Vermont at 8 a.m. that morning.
Approximately 40 counter-protestors came and chanted phrases such as “Love trumps hate,” among others. The protest was organized by student organizations such as Queer & Ally Student Assembly and Trojan Advocates for Political Progress. WBC protesters left the area by 8:40 a.m. The LGBTQ Resource Center held a safe space breakfast at the same time as the protest as well as a brunch at 9:30 a.m. after WBC left.
USC said in an email statement to Annenberg Media, “While we recognize their First Amendment rights, we reject their message of hate. USC has zero tolerance for discrimination and bigotry of any kind. Every member of the Trojan Family is treasured. We value inclusion and equity for all.”
LGBTQ students were upset over USC’s lack of communication about the WBC protest. No email was sent to the student body notifying them of the protest, but an email was sent to leaders of LGTBQ groups on campus including the Queer & Ally Student Assembly and the Queer Graduate Alliance. The university did not address the protest to neither the individuals involved with these organizations nor the student body. Winston Crisp, the USC vice president of student affairs could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing.
Phoebe Cook, a USC student who created the Facebook event for the counter-protest, emphasized the importance of standing up to WBC. “They’re coming to our campus trying to spew their hate and we need to let them know that’s not welcome here and that’s not what USC stands for,” Cook said.
Christopher McMorran, an Undergraduate Student Government senator who attended the event and is running for USG president, praised the actions of the counter-protestors saying they “handled the situation fantastically,” but wished more students were “civically engaged.”