Start of WBC protest 12:15 p.m. just after I was thrown off the median strip
While I completely understand the heavy-handed approach UMPD took with "protecting" the Westboro Baptist Church trolls yesterday, it was still a clear infringement on the "freedom of the press" to report a newsworthy item (slow news day or not).
Amherst College can do whatever it damn well pleases with visitors, including the press, because it's private property. The University of Massachusetts is a publicly funded institution which should value above all else, academic freedom -- which goes hand in hand with the First Amendment and freedom of the press.
The crowd that had gathered on the other side of Massachusetts Avenue outnumbers the WBC protesters 30-1, but other than being vocal did not represent any sort of threat. And there were at least a dozen uniformed officers present to keep things from getting physical.
So why prevent reporters and photographers from crossing the street to interview the "church" members?
The WBC performers wrap themselves in the freedoms represented by the American flag, perhaps why they use Old Glory prominently as a prop. I find it disconcerting my rights guaranteed by that flag were infringed upon in order to overly protect these outliers.
Of course I couldn't help but notice as they packed up to leave a few minutes before 1:00 p.m. they allowed the stars and stripes to touch the ground.
Red, White and Blue on green grass
Considering the disrespect shown by their signage, not overly surprising.