Police protect a group of religious protestors who had been hurling insults at passersby. They are surrounded by counter protesters holding “Hate Has No Home Here signs.” (Photo by Brian Rudnick)

by Pete Mazzaccaro

Just when you thought you’d seen everything, a group of 11 or 12 protestors occupied the corner of Germantown and Highland avenues to shout homophobic slurs and more at people arriving during the opening hours of the Harry Potter Festival on Friday evening, Oct. 20.

The protestors belonged to a religious group known as the Key of David Christian Center, which is led by Pastor Aden Rusfeldt. The church, which has an address of 1437 Christian Street in Philadelphia, has engaged recently in similar protests, including one last month at a “Pagan Pride Day” celebration in West Philadelphia’s Clark Park.

Though the group’s website describes itself as “The place of love and power… a non-denomination Christian Church,” Local shopkeeper Hillary O’Carroll, owner of Isabella Sparrow, said the protestors were not preaching about love and power.

“The things they were shouting to children and the mothers of children walking past them were so beyond horrible, so profoundly UN-Christ-like,” O’Carroll wrote in a Facebook post published to the Chestnut Hill Business District’s Facebook page. She described the group as “the most racist, bigoted, misogynistic, women-hating, gay-hating, everyone-but-them-hating, and certainly Harry Potter-hating sign-waving and megaphone-screaming protestors I could ever have imagined showing up in our town.”

Rusfeldt, who was present at the protest wore a “homo repent” hat as his followers waved signs promising general hellfire to all participating in the Potter Festival

O’Carroll wrote that she tried to drown the group out with “soothing music” from a set of speakers in front of her store, but that failed to work.

Then she came up with a plan – gather up “Hate Has no Home signs” and surround the protestors. She quickly walked residential blocks off the Avenue gathering up signs from the lawns of neighbors who were home and also from homes where no one was home yet. She apologized in her Facebook post, but explained it was the only thing she could think of to counter the Key of David protestors.

Indeed, the protestors were soon surrounded by people holding the signs O’Carroll had gathered and with signs they had made themselves as they shouted the protestors down, who were also surrounded by police protection.

The protestors left soon afterward.

“Your signs (and many loving voices who chanted “love lives here”) DROWNED THEM OUT … and eventually they could barely even be seen or heard … and they left,” O’Carroll said.

O’Carroll said she was proud of the neighborhood and promised to return the signs to everyone she could. She said she wasn’t sure if the protesters would come back, but that she was sure they’d be met with stiff resistance if they did.

“Chestnut Hill will not allow them to spew whatever it is that has turned them into such agonized souls with so much hideous vitriol to unleash,” she said.

  • Jim Harris

    What a GREAT story. Made my day. Proud to be a NW Fluffian.

  • Jim Harris

    Nut job “pastor”: “Don’t touch me, Sir!”
    Man with coat hanger: “I will f—ing KILL you.”
    Priceless!
    Bless you, man with coat hanger. I wouldv’e done the same.

    • Robert Fox

      Threats of physical violence are always hilarious!

      • Jim Harris

        Well this one was. That pastor was pushing peoples’ buttons and I can understand how a parent or any decent human could lose one’s temper. The pastor, by the way, “forgave” his heinous attacker. Paradise regained! Hey, our President threatens people, and millions love him.

        • Joe

          🙂

  • Joe

    Love this. Love the use of the “Hate Has no home here signs” – good thing there were so many of them here in this leafy enclave 😉

    Our friends 6yo daughter made a tiny sign and held it up against them that said “my sign is small, but my heart is big” – love this town.

  • Robert Fox

    IN NO WAY do I remotely support, condone, or agree with the messages that these hateful “protestors” were shouting. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. But, I question whether surrounding them so as to physically block them and shouting them down is something to be celebrated. When we think certain speech must be snuffed out because we don’t like it, do we not undermine the foundation of a free society? If Chestnut Hill “will not allow them” to speak, who is the arbiter of what speech Chestnut Hill will allow?

    • Joe

      I was there, it was pretty clearly hate speech… which did incite violence. The police should have removed them peacefully. I have pictures if you want to see what their signs said…

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech

      They were also using megaphones, and they would need a permit for amplified sound.

      • Robert Fox

        Hate speech is allowed in this country because the danger of only disallowing certain speech is not worth the risk to our other liberties.

        • Joe

          Robert, I just wanted you to defend hate speech, publicly 🙂

          Well then, they were using amplified sound… which is totally illegal.

          And the use of the signs and chants to drown them out… totally legal and awesome.

          • Robert Fox

            Oh Joe. At some point you’re going to have to say something substantive. Attack the point that was made, rather than the person who made it. Do you recall when I said “I condemn it in the strongest possible terms”? Yet you accuse me of defending hate speech? Your argument amounts to what the left has been reduced to – personally attacking those who point out their fascism. Can you address the point I made, rather than attack me, Joe?

          • Joe

            Oh Robert, you are so pejorative. The thing is about condemning their behavior – I don’t really think you do. 😉

            And let’s not start on fascism, as someone who continually champions the removal of the “hate has no gone here signs”.

            And again, their use of those awesome signs to drown out their hateful behavior you are protecting (speaking of substantive comments – as this is exactly what this article was about) – it was brilliant.. and totally legal.

            Let me say it again Robert… the behavior of those denouncing the hate, protecting their kids from the vile profanity, the derogatory racial slurs those parents, that held those hate has no home here signs up… they are to be admired.

            You questioning their behavior… is transparent, thinly veiled. But I know you couldn’t resist.

            Again, so glad you are outnumbered here.

          • Robert Fox

            Wow, just more hate. I thought you had more to offer Joe.

          • Joe

            Robert, love how you just “say” something as if it’s true. I don’t hate you, I think you are a fool – that’s not hate… it’s closer to pity, or perhaps disgust. If I recall correctly, you are the one supporting the hateful, bigoted, racist, homophobic religious zealots right to scream obscenities into my kids ears as they walked by on their way to a sleepover.

          • Robert Fox

            Telling someone they’re lying and really do support hateful messages is hateful. That’s all.

          • Joe

            Robert, you are wrong… you twist words to meet your own definition. That’s not what hate is. Look it up. Convincing you is like blowing a train out of the way because you are so incredibly deluded.

            Again, love how you came to the defense of free speech in relation to the hateful, racist bigots that fell upon our fair town. Perhaps Robert, next time – you should join them directly – or at least show up and defend their right to spew their vitriol. Of course you won’t because you are also a coward.

            Again Robert… this is not hate – it’s disgust… and pity. Glad you are outnumbered.

            I suspect we are going to do this for awhile… because you always have to have the last word… probably some deeply embedded insecurity having to do with living in a town where most don’t agree with your hateful anti left agenda.

            I’ll be here to troll your comments… and for every time you get the last word… I’ll find another comment of yours to balance. 🙂

          • Robert Fox

            You have said I disgust you. Disgust. Let that sink in.

            You have called me a coward, fool, arrogant, possessing deep insecurities, hypocrite, and deluded. You have described my comments as “vitriol.” Most egregiously, you have suggested I support the hateful rhetoric of these agitators, repeatedly, despite the fact that I do not and have said so. You can say what you will, but refusing to take someone at their word, without reason to do so, it hateful.

            See the thing is, we agree on the hate speech. We both condemn it. I don’t want it in my neighborhood any more than you do. I don’t want my kids exposed to racist or homophobic comments any more than you do. I am raising them to treat people as people, as I was raised, without regard to their race or sexuality or religion or anything else. But you refuse to find common ground and simply imply I am somehow concealing my real agenda.

            I could make my comments again but what’s the point? I have already made them and you are free to read them again. By all means, you are free to have the last word. I imagine we’ll see each other soon anyway.

          • Joe

            Robert, I have made many attempts to reach common ground with you. (Shall I share the links?) I’m glad you clarified your points of view… because much of your other commentary… the articles you choose to comment on and your tone lead me (and others) to think that your beliefs align with that of our president – who I know you actively support.

            Thanks again for letting me have the last word this time, feels nice.

          • W. Thornburg

            It’s not often that a troll realizes he is a troll. I am thankful that “Joe” is self aware. “Joe”, carry on arguing anonymously with people on the internet.

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