Protests are all around us today, from anti-war demonstrations to the recent protests in Jena, La. Most students are used to seeing protests on television, but it is another experience to see one up close, especially when it is unexpected and interrupts daily life. West Chester University students get a taste of this every time Repent America comes to campus.
Repent America is an evangelical Christian-based organization that has decided it is their duty to, “go out to where the sinners are” to tell them about “the Word of God,” according to their web site RepentAmerica.com.
The Pennsylvania tour starts Oct. 1, and since their organization is based in Philadelphia, West Chester is sure to be on their list of places to find sinners.
Spots such as the academic quad, outside Sykes Student Union and along Rosedale Avenue are common places for protestors to stand with their signs of bloody, disfigured fetuses with “postmortem photo record” along the side.
Repent America came to WCU’s campus on Oct. 25, 2006. The student body spoke their minds in response to the anti-abortion propaganda.
WCU students have mixed reactions to these protestors and their controversial visual aids.
“It’s great that we live in a country where people can express themselves freely,” third-year student Kayla Fehr said. “However, groups like this just take it too far and get a lot of undeserved attention.”
“I think their signs are controversial and do not really give accurate impressions of the issues,” WCU alumnus Lauren Beley, ’07, said.
While it is every citizen’s right to free speech, Repent America has at times crossed the line.
For instance, Repent America President Michael Marcavage was arrested on Oct. 10, 2006 under Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law while protesting at a gay pride event in Philadelphia.
However, the charges were later dismissed by a Common Pleas Court judge as being without merit.
Repent America have received negative attention in the media. After Hurricane Katrina, the organization issued a press release saying that the city deserved to get destroyed because it was a “wicked city.”
While on campus this week be sure to keep in mind that everyone deserves the right to free speech.
Erica Deibler is a fourth-year student majoring in Communication Studies. She can be reached at ED590585@wcupa.edu.