A police officer was being laid to rest after she was gunned down by a violent felon. Sadly, the Westboro Baptist Church got wind of the event and thought it would be a good idea to picket the ceremony. But, the community had a better idea, quickly leaving the hate group humiliated.
Kerrie Orozco, a 29-year-old officer in Omaha, Nebraska, was tragically killed in the line of duty. While attempting to serve a felony arrest warrant for 26-year-old Marcus Wheeler, the violent thug pulled out a pistol and started shooting. Officers returned fire, killing Wheeler, but Orozco was also killed during the exchange.
Making her death even more tragic was the timing of her death. Orozco died the day before she was supposed to go on maternity leave to care for her newborn daughter. She had given birth to a premature baby girl three months prior, and her daughter had remained in the hospital. Rather than take maternity leave right after the birth, Orozco chose to remain on the force until her daughter was released from the hospital.
As one would imagine, news of Officer Kerrie Orozco’s death sent shockwaves through the Omaha community, with hundreds of supporters showing up for her funeral. Unfortunately, so did members from the widely loathed, infamous hate group the Westboro Baptist Church, known for protesting military and law enforcement funerals.
As the city planned to lay the officer to rest, members of Westboro had devious plans of their own to picket the ceremony. Their disrespect wasn’t about to be tolerated by Omaha residents, however. According to Omaha.com, the community decided to stick it to the crazed demonstrators in the best way possible: peacefully. And, Operation White Out Nebraska was born.
As members from the hate group convened on a corner near Interstate 480, community members numbering in the hundreds, accompanied by members of the Patriot Guard, lined up in front of them with large white sheets bearing a blue line across them. And, it was all for one purpose – to block the view of the Westboro demonstrators from mourners riding in the funeral procession.
The best part about their awesome show of solidarity was that the entire community had a hand in making the sheets, with about 1,000 people total signing up to participate on a Facebook page created for the event. “Everybody just came together,” said Kate Kielion, 33, whose father is a retired captain with the Omaha Police. “Everybody wanted to help. Our purpose was to hide the hate and show the love, and that’s what happened.”
When community members caught wind that the hate-filled group would be showing up to picket, they sought out others to shut them down. Josh Swafford, a 26-year-old Omaha resident, said he wanted to do everything in his power to shield the family from seeing the demonstrators. “We’re all in this together,” said Swafford. “Everyone should be able to grieve in peace.”
Their efforts paid off big time. Before the funeral procession even made its way to where the Westboro members were demonstrating, the protesters had left the area, leaving only those who were showing support for Orozco to line the streets. “Without the community involvement, this would not have happened,” said Kielion. “It was all them.”
The people of Omaha should be proud of themselves. Not only did they shut down the bigots of the Westboro Baptist Church, but they paid their respects to Officer Kerrie Orozco and her family in a truly epic fashion. While nothing is going to bring her back, at least her family knows they have the full support of the community. That has to be a great comfort, which is exactly what her friends and family need.
What’s more, the community showed how you handle hate. Peacefully, they counter-protested the Westboro demonstrators, showing what true tolerance looks like. They could have tried to outshout them or even met their infuriating display with violence. They chose to show love for Kerrie Orozco instead, effectively drowning out any hate Westboro had hoped to bring.