A group of Oklahoma residents has ousted members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church from their town for picketing in front of an academic building.
Hundreds of opponents of the anti-gay organization stood together Sunday at Central Junior High School against the picketers, who arrived in Moore, Okla, according to a report from local station KFOR-TV. A ferocious tornado cut throughout the state in March 2013, killing 24 people and injuring hundreds more. The church recently issued a news flier declaring its followers’ beliefs that the catastrophe was a result of “God’s wrath” and hatred toward the town.
The church held a permit from the city to protest for 30 minutes, but some residents began crossing picket lines within minutes of the members’ arrival, according to KFOR. Students from a nearby school have attended classes on the premises since the disaster.
Police held back the town residents while picketers returned to their cars and left the scene, according to the report.
No arrests or injuries were reported, Moore Police told msnbc.
Westboro Baptist Church members have staged nearly 52,500 anti-gay protests and pickets at military funerals since the late Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. founded the Kansas organization in 1955.
The church then issued a statement criticizing the media for “gleefully anticipating” Phelps’s death.