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World AIDS Day protest

UMass students come out against bigot

Published Dec 13, 2009 10:12 PM

Over 100 University of Massachusetts students and community supporters came out here on Dec. 1 to protest the appearance near the UMass campus of the white supremacist, anti-gay, anti-Semitic Fred Phelps and members of his Westboro Church in Kansas.

Boston World AIDS Day protest against
bigot Fred Phelps.
WW photo: Gerry Scoppettuolo

Phelps, who is infamous for picketing the funerals of people who have died from AIDS, had the audacity to come to the campus on World AIDS Day. But the students were determined to turn out forcefully to condemn him and his bigoted followers.

Edwin Melenciano, 24, an HIV outreach worker, typified the community outrage at Phelps: “It’s important to oppose him and not lay back and stay quiet. Not to oppose him would be to say he is right. We have to stand up to him to show others the way.”

Terrell Amooson, president of the Student Government Association, was among the elected student leadership that helped organize the rally. “I feel we need to shed some light on the ignorance here and promote equal rights. Phelps is a hypocrite for using God’s name to promote hate.”

The rally was organized and supported by the UMass LGBT Equality Coalition, the International Socialist Organization, the Stonewall Warriors/IAC, New Era: Movement in Motion and the Boston Youth Organizing Project.