Gay Community Warned of Extremist Group's Plans
July 11, 2003
By 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA—Police in Charlotte,
North Carolina have issued warnings to the gay community, abortion clinics and
Islamic centers about a religious extremist group that is planning eight days
of protests in the city.
The group, called Operation Save America says it expects hundreds of its
members at the demonstrations. OSA has
made block bookings for rooms at a local Days Inn, and even though the leader
of the group says it is non violent, police say minority groups should be on
the lookout for suspicious packages and should stay clear of the
The protests are slated to begin on Saturday.
Operation Save America began in Dallas, Texas but moved to Concord, North
Carolina over the past year. Its
leader, Philip "Flip" Benham says the protestors will demonstrate in
front of abortion clinics on Monday, the Metropolitan Community Church on
Tuesday and at area mosques later in the week.
Benham says the July 18 protest at the MCC will feature nine caskets, one
for each of the nine Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of overturning
Texas sodomy law.
Although Benham says he denounces violence his confrontational rhetoric
has raised concerns he could incite a riot.
In May, Benham attended Charlotte's Pride festival and screamed
throughout a mass commitment ceremony for about a dozen gay couples.
He was arrested Saturday for trespassing in front of a southwest
Charlotte abortion clinic, when he stepped over a line that marked where
protesters were allowed to stand. He had the option of posting $500 bond but
decided to stay in jail until his court date. He is expected to be out of jail
in time for the protests.
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