MONDAY (4:30 p.m.): A Topeka, Kan., city councilman has apologized for his community to the residents of Newtown for the statements by members of the Westboro Baptist Church that they plan to picket Sandy Hook Elementary in wake of Friday's deadly shootings.
"I want to send my apologies to the folks in Newtown," Topeka Councilman Chan Manspeaker to The Huffington Post. "We are not a community that embraces the Phelps."
Westboro Baptist Church, led by Fred Phelps, says it has been attacked since it announced on Saturday that it would picket in Newtown.
Manspeaker says he believes the group said it would protest in Newtown simply to get attention for itself.
"The motive is for them to get more press," Manspeaker told The Huffington Post. "They are excellent PR managers, if your message is hate and discontent."
In addition to being targeted by the hacker group Anonymous since its protest threat, Westboro Baptist Church has been:
- The target of a series of negative Tweets
- The subject of a petition to the White House seeking to have WBC recognized as a "hate group" — more than 131,000 signatures have been posted on the petition.
A member of Westboro Baptist Church, the group that is known for picketing funerals of soldiers and AIDS victims, says the group plans to picket Sandy Hook Elementary School, according to Examiner.com.
A day after Friday's shooting in Newtown, CT, where police said 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother and then 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary, Westboro Baptist member Shirley Phelps-Roper posted a message on Twitter that the group would "sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment."
Fellow member Margie Phelps, according to Examiner.com, tweeted "Westboro 'God hates Fags' Baptist Church is planning to pciket at Sandy Hook, to praise 'God's judgment.'”
Westboro Baptist Church is a Kansas-based organization that has gained national attention through its pickets at U.S. soldiers' funerals, by assailing homosexuality and even calling Barack Obama "the anti-Christ." Previous messages by Phelps-Roper have come prior to protests by the group. However, the group has threatened to protest at other high-profile incidents in the nation, but then failed to show up.
In apparent retribution for the protest threat, the hackers group Anonymous posted information — names, addresses, telephone numbers — of Westboro members online.
CNET reports that the posting of the data is part of a campaign dubbed #OPWestBoro to counter the efforts of Westboro Baptist Church members. Westboro also released a video called "God Sent the Shooter," saying it is a "message for Connecticut."