Members of the anti-gay, anti-Semitic Westboro Baptist Church have threatened to protest tonight outside of the College of Charleston, where an activist against hate crime is expected to speak. College of Charleston officials said the school will take the appropriate safety precautions and extra officers will be there.
“But this is a public event so we don’t anticipate any problems,” said Mike Robertson, the college’s spokesman.
Judy Shepard is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. at the Stern Student Center Ballroom about the loss of her son, Matthew.
It’s been 15 years since Matthew Shepard, who was gay, was abducted and beaten to death in Laramie, Wyo.
His mother and family then formed the Matthew Shepherd Foundation. Their work at raising awareness helped expand the federal hate crimes laws to include crimes against people based on their sexual orientation.
This is not Westboro’s first visit to Charleston. The group picketed outside of Joint Base Charleston and James Island Charter High School in 2010.
The group is monitored as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.