“You Eat Your Kids” and “Thank God For Dead Soldiers” were among the signs held high by four members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Washington Circle Thursday morning, a protest met by about 300 college students.

The counterprotesters, including a contingent from Georgetown, were there in opposition to Westboro’s stance against gays and current American foreign policy.

“Something needed to be said back in response to them, saying, `You’re wrong, dead soldiers is not a blessing,'” counterprotester Marisa Tersy (SFS ’14) said. “Especially since the protest was [targeted at The George Washington University, to protest the liberal leanings of the university] and also toward our generation [.] as students we need to say what we feel back to them.”

Student protesters from GWU formed a large part of the Veterans Day demonstration.

“We thought it would be a great idea to do a counterprotest, to show our support for veterans and to show that we condemn any acts of bigotry,” said Erin Mew, editor-at-large of the GW Patriot, which helped organize the protest.

The Westboro Baptist Church, based in Topeka, Kan., is known for its extreme religious beliefs. The church regularly pickets at funerals of members of the military and murdered gays, both of whom they do not believe deserve commemoration, and has also held protests at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C.

“It’s crazy that people can act like this and the world might not know about it,” said Armes Vito, a senior at GWU. “It’s just absolutely horrendous, so I couldn’t let them come here without protesting.”

The Westboro picketers at Thursday’s protest held signs, wore American flags and gay-pride flags tied around their feet so that they trailed on the ground and shared heated exchanges with the student protesters.

“God doesn’t use bad words,” one counterprotester shouted at the Westboro picketers.

“Like `hate,’ and `I abhor your very image,’ is that a bad word? God hates you,” Westboro member Rebecca Phelps-Roper responded. “We’re here because your destruction is imminent, because you are still living you have a chance to repent.”

Students were vocal in their opposition to Westboro’s points of contention, periodically breaking out into chants of “It’s not working,” and “I’m gay for today.”

Despite heated conversation, the protests were peaceful. The protests were supervised by about a dozen police officers, who ensured that students stayed on the north side of Washington Circle, the only area for which they had a permit. A small group of Georgetown students were also in attendance. Some students, including Kaitlin Carano (COL ’13), said they felt that responding to the pickets only served to feed the fire of protest, however.

“If it weren’t for the fact that there are these protests…nobody would know about these people,” she said. “They would have no voice, and we give them a voice by going and showing that we somehow care what they’re saying.”

Tersy disagreed.

“The protest was important,” she said. “They can picket, and that that’s their right, but it’s our right too…Something needed to be done.”

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