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Monthly Archives: December 2010

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Covering the Fred Phelps gang


A little more than a month ago, the Westboro group came to Columbia, Mo, on a weekend I was working.

That’s where I stopped writing this blog post in November 2009. For whatever reason, I didn’t want to keep writing about the “Westboro group stops here again,” Columbia Daily Tribune.

But I’ve kept coming back to my website and kept seeing this unfinished draft, so, to avoid this post smelling worse than it does, I’ll briefly finish what I started.

We all know the Phelps crew. And we probably all dislike the Phelps crew. They stomp on our flags. They say ludicrous things at sensitive times. And they do not care what we say or think about them.

We all know that. What struck me about the Phelps gang is how well they understand the game, how well they know what they doing. To the news reporters covering them, the Phelps crew was as kind as can be.

To the people shouting at them, the ones arguing and cussing to no end, the Phelps crew shouted back, unwilling to take such insults without a comeback.

We bother them because they bother us; their actions appall the good in all of us. But when we shout and pay attention to them instead of blocking their access or getting in their way like the successful anti-protesters, we play their game, the one they’ve been playing for years and the one they know better than us: the game of insults.

And we lose every time.

OWH: Calming, familiar presence

Omaha World-Herald:

“Sector 1, go ahead.”

“OPD is en route to South 28th Avenue for smoke in that area,” a female dispatcher says.

The night begins with an assignment, a rarity for Daniel Hagen, an Omaha Housing Authority security guard. Most of the time, Hagen patrols the Southside Terrace Garden Apartments, the largest remaining public housing cluster in Omaha, on his own.

He cruises the neighborhood, coasting down hills, lurching up streets, waving to some people, waiting for eye contact from others.

But he’s rarely told what to do, except for right now, about 10 p.m. on a recent Friday.

The temperature in the teens, the wind in the 30s. And smoke in the area.

OWH: Malcolm X Center opens in Omaha

Omaha World-Herald: Sharif Liwaru moved here from California as a 17-year-old who knew one thing about Omaha: It was Malcolm X’s hometown.

Liwaru became second vice president of the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation while attending Omaha North High School.

And on Thursday night, he led a ceremony that fulfilled one of the foundation’s longtime goals: the grand opening of the new Malcolm X Center, 3463 Evans St.