Thousand Oaks High School demonstrates a Peaceful Protest against Westboro Baptist Church | February 11, 2019


February 11, 2019
Article By: Jesse Watrous

Thousand Oaks, Calif. - About a hundred people which includes Thousand Oaks High School faculty, students, parents, the community, as well as people from other cities and schools came to show support for the high school and the Thousand Oaks community in a peaceful demonstration. People began to show up around 6:30 am and stayed around 8:30 am in order to show love and support to all of the students.

Credit: Lexa D'Angelo / Ventura County Star

People gathered at the corners of Moorpark Road and Avenida de los Flores and held signs that displayed religious scriptures and spreading “Love not Hate” towards the religious protestors of Westboro Baptist Church before students went to class this morning. A few of the signs read, “TOStrong”, “TOHS Pride”, "Open Mind Open Heart", “Solidarity with LGBTQ Students!” and “God Loves You.”

Thousand Oaks residents Alexander Avalos, 20 (L) and Nicolas Storey, 20 came to support the high school with posters to support the LGBTQ community. (© Jesse Watrous)

Marc Mohr of Sylmar came to support the high school and community with a poster to spread the message of God's love. (© Jesse Watrous)


Danielle Williams of Thousand Oaks came to support the high school and community with posters to spread the message of love. (© Jesse Watrous)


Thousand Oaks Police Department were strategically stationed to keep both parties in their locations and to prevent any mishaps. This did not bode well with some people but they showed their respect by abiding what the police enforced.

Westboro Baptist Church members gathered at the community park and on the sidewalks in front of the school and held signs in protest. A few of the signs were “God sent the shooter”, “The wages of sin is death”, and “God’s wrath is revealed”. The Kansas-based church claims that the city was incurring the “wrath of God” and referred to the Borderline mass shooting and wild fires in November 2018.

Credit: ABC7

Credit: Jon Baird / KNX1070

These protestors were not allowed to interact with faculty, students, and parents during their demonstration. This small group left after the students were in school session and headed towards Pepperdine University in Malibu to repeat their demonstration.

Westboro Baptist Church sent out the following statement, in part, prior to today's event:

"WITH PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING ON OUR LIPS, THE FOLLOWERS OF THE ONE TRUE CHRIST WILL PREACH HIS WORD AND MESSAGE OF REPENTANCE TO THE STUDENTS AND FACULTY OF THOUSAND OAKS HIGH SCHOOL AFTER THE MASS SHOOTING IN NOVEMBER ON MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11."



In response to this statement, Dr. Mark McLaughlin, Superintendent of Conejo Valley Unified School District, released the following statement, in part, prior to today's event:

"Regarding the activity scheduled for Monday morning, we are fortunate to have a strong partnership with the Thousand Oaks Police Department and we continue to be in communication with them about the scheduled demonstration. The District does not condone or support any of the messages publicized by the WBC, however it is unlawful for the District to attempt to "ban" or silence this group per their rights under the First Amendment. WBC wants attention for their activities, counter demonstrations by some individuals may take place, but ignoring them is thought to be the most effective response."

The Westboro Baptist Church, which is based in Topeka, Kansas, is widely considered a hate group for its inflammatory speech - particularly against the LGBTQ community, soldiers and other religions.

With the cooperation of Thousand Oaks High School, Thousand Oaks Police Department, and the community, people should be very proud of how once again, the community came together with love and respect and to show outsiders who want to throw hate towards this city, that it is not tolerated or accepted. Though tragedies have devastated this community, it made people come together and grow with love, kindness, and respect.

I am grateful to be a part of this Community and a proud Thousand Oaks High School Alumni. We are #TOStrong.





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