HARRIS HEROES

Wilson High students overwhelmed by support for counterprotest against Westboro Baptist

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - We witnessed the power of social media Monday morning outside D.C.'s Wilson High School.

Hundreds of students, faculty and community members came out to counterprotest Westboro Baptist Church at Wilson High School in D.C. Monday. (Photo: Brianne Carter/WJLA)

Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for its conservative, anti-gay views, announced it would protest outside the school after the school planned a gay pride day last week.

Some students say, as soon as they learned about the church's plans, they got online to spread the word about organizing a counterprotest.

Organizer Tao Marwell, a Wilson student, said, "Everyone, all the students, just came together and we were like, 'No - we're not going to let Westboro push us around."

Monday, about a dozen members of the Kansas church gathered for their protest. Student organizers say they expected about 100 students to attend the counterprotest - so imagine their surprise when several hundred students, faculty and community members showed up.

Among those in the crowd - Wilson High School principal Peter Cahall, who, during last week's gay pride day, came out to the students and staff, announcing he's a gay man.

Students say the fact that this was Westboro Baptist Church's second protest at the school in five years means they're creating change.

"I feel kind of proud to have Wilson targeted, because it shows we've made a difference - and that's made them mad."

Student Margaret Kellogg called it "a big thing" that so many non-Wilson community members showed up to support their counter-protest.

"My goal is for Westboro to have 4,000 schools next year to protest," said student Kellik Dawson. "I want more schools to have [pride days]."

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