About 200 people blocked the main street in downtown Orlando to form a human chain to counteract the demonstrators from Westboro Baptist Church.
A handful of the church’s members raised their now iconic anti-gay signs across the street from St. James Catholic Cathedral, while more two dozen police officers stood between them and the rainbow-adorned assembly.
The human chain group formed organically through Facebook, after rumors surfaced that the group would demonstrate at several funerals of the victims of Sunday’s mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub. The funerals began Thursday, however, the church did not apply for permits until Friday with plans to picket on Saturday.
The amalgam of humanity who came out against Westboro included bikers, priests, young people, members of the LGBT community and locals carrying signs saying “God is love” and the motto the City Beautiful adopted in response to the massacre, “Orlando strong.”
Angel Gabriel Vasquez and his husband, Adam Vasquez, came to the counter-protest in downtown Orlando wearing a rainbow-colored Puerto Rican flag draped around their necks like a cape.
They live in Pennsylvania but flew into Orlando, their former home, Saturday night after watching the news coverage of the shooting massacre.
“This is where we grew up. This is where we matured as young gay men. And to be Puerto Rican, Latin night was one of our favorite nights,” Angel Vasquez said. “This is where our hearts is.
After hearing about the church’s plans on Facebook, the couple decided to join the counter-protest.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Arelis R. Hernández