Wednesday, March 4, 2009

(RUMOR): 200,000 gay protestors plan to disrupt LDS General Conference

UPDATE: I've just been alerted that the email below is a rumor, according to KSL - but, in good social media practices, I'm leaving the post up. Hopefully this'll help dispel the rumor. Here's the KSL report, FYI:

An inflammatory e-mail is circulating around the country, saying Salt Lake City police officers are preparing for up to 200,000 protesters during the LDS General Conference in April, and it's causing concern in both the Latter-day Saint and gay communities.

The e-mail begins with reference to a good friend whose dad, who supposedly works for the Salt Lake City Police Department, says police are putting in extra hours doing riot training.

"The training they are possibly referring to is this routine training that we do every year on crowd control techniques and protest," said Detective Dennis McGowan, spokesman for the Salt Lake City Police Department.

McGowan added, "You know, thanks for the opportunity, though, to get this out to everyone that, as far as our concern at this point in time, these are rumors and everyone can stand down."

Last November, some 2,000 protesters marched around Temple Square in reaction to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' support of California's Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Those who marched then had protest permits from Salt Lake City. At this point, only a Latter-day Saint group has asked for a permit. Its members want to sing hymns outside the Conference Center to combat a shouting Christian group.

Equality Utah public policy manager Will Carlson says his organization heard the buzz about this e-mail a month ago. Members are concerned that it's fear-mongering.

"The gay and transgender community hasn't been talking about doing protests. The only talk about the first weekend in April was doing a service project for at-risk communities," Carlson said. "This is not the right approach, and we wouldn't support, we don't support it. We know this is not true, but even if it were, we wouldn't support it."

Dozens of Salt Lake City police officers are on duty every conference weekend for traffic and crowd control because more than 100,000 Latter-day Saints attend meetings over the two days. Officers anticipate some protests because there have been for years.


Every six months - the first weekends of April and October - Latter-day Saints the world over gather together via television, Internet and satellite communications to hear from our top leaders (or "General Authorities"), who speak from the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City, across from Temple Square.

General Conference, as these meetings are called, is a big deal. LDS people travel from all over to attend the conference in person - the Conference Center is so huge, you can fit a 747 inside of it! Conference is a spiritual highlight for us, getting to hear from the men and women we sustain as God's mouthpieces, delivering messages that really hit home and encourage us all to live a little better. Or a lot better. General Conference is a very special, sacred time for Latter-day Saints.

So, with that context - I just got this email forward from a friend that I wanted to pass along:

Subject: 200,000 Gay Protestors to Disrupt General Conference

I was speaking with a good friend today who's dad works for the Salt Lake City Police Department. My friend asked him how things were going for him at work and he said that he'd been putting in extra hours doing riot control training. He asked what on earth were they doing that for, and he told him that the entire police force was going through an additional 10 hours of mandatory riot control training because the city is bracing for an influx of 10,000 to 200,000 Gay protesters that want to disrupt this coming General Conference.

I asked how does your dad know how many people will be showing up. He said that the protest permits had already been applied for and that the police, in doing a little intelligence gathering off of the groups websites, found out that they are "strenuously striving" to get as many people there as possible. The 200,000 number is the goal that they want to have on Conference weekend.

But what really worries the police are that the gay protest groups have aligned themselves with a couple of anarchist groups who make it their goal in life to cause as much trouble as possible. These are the groups that show up at protests and you have anarchists running through the streets throwing bricks, Molotov Cocktails, and what not, breaking windows, burning cars and businesses, and attacking innocent citizens and by standers. Their only goal is to provoke a reaction from the police and the citizenry. Can you imagine this going on while Church members are standing in line waiting to enter the Conference Center? His dad further said that the Salt Lake Police in discussing what happened in California with the police there were
informed of some of the inflammatory tactics that the gay protesters used down there including ripping up Book of Mormons, having people parade around wearing only temple garments or wearing them in comb with typical homosexual drag queen clothing. WOW WHAT A SIGHT.

Anyway, the police are planning on canceling all leave to have every officer on hand for the conference, and depending on how many people start showing up and call in the Utah National Guard. Unless something unforeseen happens this is shaping up to be a major event for the police, the Church, and all major news broadcasters.

So, I'm hoping this doesn't happen, of course - but if you're heading to Conference, brace yourself.

There are protestors at every General Conference (including anti-abortion people, which I've always found funny, considering the Church's strong anti-abortion stance), so that's nothing new - but this will be over the top if it happens.

Agree or disagree, I sure wish people could have respect for one another. I think people can voice outrage and opposition without insult. I had an interesting conversation the other night via Facebook with a high-school friend who's adamantly atheist and anti-Prop. 8. She'd just seen the South Park episode that pokes fun at the Joseph Smith story, the founding of my faith that I hold sacred, and she was asking me for my thoughts the show - which were difficult to translate into words. Basically I disagreed with the form but not content - people are entitled to their opinions, but it bothers me when a difference in opinion devolves to mockery and disrespect. Obviously the episode twisted truth into something scoffable, and veiling opposition with humor seems so disingenuous to me. It's so uncalled for and unnecessary.

I might not agree with gay marriage, but you would never in a million years find me making fun of it - mostly because I respect the individuals, even if I disagree with their actions. In the midst of the Prop. 8 battle in the fall, LDS leaders urged respect and tolerance from us toward the anti-Prop. 8 people, reminding us that there are good people on that side of the fence. Too bad the door doesn't swing both ways.


IzeOfLight said...

While this story isn't current (posted Feb 26, but referring to details listed in the email forward), we still should take it into consideration.

JoAnn said...

Well, I'm headed that way this April to worship, not fuss, so I hope the rumor is just that, rumor. But if it's not, we'll make do the best we can just like we've been doing with the "Christian" right over the past few years. So, if the radical left blacklisters and browbeaters show up, they might want to look to their left and right while chastising the Mormons, they might just find themselves cheek by jowl with some white supremacist from Idaho.