The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Maroon Wall 2.0 gathers on Simpson to protest Westboro

A student holds up a sign in front of Westboro, which was picketing in Rudder Plaza.  Photo by Tanner Garza

Students once again stood beside each other as they did in 2012, responding to Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, picketing in Rudder Plaza on Monday morning.
In 2012 outside of a College Station church, hundreds of Aggies stood side by side to create a barrier around the funeral of Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale
Class of 1992. Aggies blocked an announced protest from members of Westboro Baptist Church — which is known for picketing at soldiers funerals. In the end, however, Westboro did not show up.
Gathered on Simpson Drill Field Monday, students facilitated yells and sang the Aggie War Hymn and the Spirit of Aggieland.
Lt. Allan Baron, University Police Department public information officer, said UPD planned accordingly after receiving a letter from attorneys representing Westboro.
Baron said personnel were stationed throughout the area to monitor the event and ensure the safety of everyone.
“Each event is evaluated individually to determine the potential for conflicts and the need for law enforcement at the event,” Baron said.
Elyssa De Caprio, biomedical sciences freshman and an administrator of the “Maroon Wall 2.0” Facebook page, to which 3,100 people responded, said she reached out to the Office of the Commandant in order to gain permission to use Simpson Drill Field for the yell.
“We told them exactly what we were going to be doing and why we were going to be [on Simpson Drill Field] and we obviously wanted to make sure, with different heads on campus, that it was fine for us to be there, that it was okay and completely within the realms of legality and within the rules of A&M,” De Caprio said.
Col. Glenn Starnes, assistant commandant, said he was contacted after hearing that a group of students would need a large space to gather.
“Once it was confirmed that ground maintenance had no issue with the group forming on the field, the okay was given to allow the use of the field,” Starnes said.
De Caprio and engineering technology junior Taylor Reed, who co-led the event, said they were impressed with the amount of students in attendance Monday.
De Caprio said with such a big group and no real oversight, she stressed to students the importance of staying civil and not leaving the yell to confront members of WBC.
“What happened was we had a lot of people [on Facebook] saying that they were going to leave our group and personally attack [members of] The Westboro Baptist Church, and we wanted to make sure that nobody went and participated in that,” De Caprio said. “We just basically advise that if we saw somebody walking away then they would just stay with and not cause conflict with anybody.”
Students were also gathered near the east corner of Rudder Plaza as members of WBC picketed and spoke to the crowd of people gathered around them.
Reed said he and De Caprio advised other students against walking over to Rudder Plaza, in order to not “get caught up in the moment,” when engaging WBC.
“We want to make it clear [to students], we’re not their leaders,” De Caprio said. “We’re just kind of here to help and guide people. They have every right to be over there. We gave them guidelines such as have a buffer zone and don’t be next to them, but what people choose to do they are going to regardless of what we say.”
Rather than participating in the yell, Jessie Kyle, education freshman, stood in Rudder Plaza with a handmade poster with written Bible verse to protest the picketing.
Kyle said she wanted to impart her views as a Christian to WBC and other students.
“I believe other stuff,” Kyle said. “I believe that God loves everyone. I don’t like that they are on our campus making our students feel uncomfortable. I wanted people to know that that’s not how everyone feels about them and that they are welcome. We were talking earlier and saying, ‘That’s not what the 12th Man is about. It’s about standing up for people who don’t have anyone else to stand up for them.’”
Monday also marked the 239th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.
In addition to singing the Aggie War Hymn and the Spirit of Aggieland, students sang the U.S. Marine Corps hymn and Happy Birthday, which De Caprio said the event was also meant to highlight.

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  • A student holds up a sign in front of Westboro, which was picketing in Rudder Plaza.  Photo by Tanner Garza

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