FRAMINGHAM, MA - Under the cover of darkness T.V. news trucks quietly pulled into the old State Lumber parking lot at the corner of School Street and Concord Street.
It was still before dawn as reporters fixed their hair, straightened their jackets and ties, and cameramen readied their equipment.
The Assignment: Get some film of the Westboro Baptist Church members who are in town to protest the play, "The Laramie Project".
The controversial play is about the murder of a gay 21 year old University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard, who was beaten and left to die in 1998 and how the community dealt with the issue.
The Westboro Baptist group travels around the country protesting the play, but are perhaps even better known for protesting at the funerals of US Soldiers who were killed in war.
The play will be performed at Framingham High School tonight and tomorrow night, (Friday and Saturday, December 3rd & 4th, 2010).
Parents of Framingham High students received an email from the school indicating the group would most likely picket at the fork in the road where A St. splits off from Concord St, just after the MassPike/Cherry St. bridge.
Framingham Police and the Highway Department had been securing the area around Framingham High School since late Thursday night. "No Parking" signs, barricades and directional signs were placed along Concord St, A St., Cherry St., Central St., as well as Lowther Rd. and Bonito Dr. to control all traffic in and out of the school.
At approximately 6:00am, counter protesters, police and onlookers started gathering at the fork in the road.
By 7:00am, a contingent of counter-protesters holding signs and banners of their own watched as Shirley Phelps-Roper, Ben Phelps and three 8 year old Phelps kids showed up to do their "God Hates" show.
Pressing the play button on her boom-box to start the show's music, Phelps-Roper wrapped herself in an American Flag and stuffed a Rainbow Flag into her pants and got her props together for the sidewalk theatre she was about to perform.
The WBC kids leaned on a fence most of the time -- sometimes holding up their signs while Shirley and her brother Ben were interviewed by media.
When asked why the boys weren't in school today, Shirley said the 8 year olds, (who were her son, nephew and another relative), were "on a field trip" today.
According to Nate Phelps, estranged brother of Shirley Phelps-Roper; when they were children they were dropped off in neighborhoods across the country and forced to work 10-12 hours a day selling candy bars to support the church/hate group's mission.
Only one Framingham resident appeared in support of the WBC...
Almost as quickly as they appeared, the WBC group packed up their props and music and disappeared --- off to protest other people and places they think God hates.