Published: mic (March 16, 2014)
Reverend Fred Phelps, the founder of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church, is reportedly “on the edge of death” at a hospice in Kansas.
In case your memory needs refreshing, Phelps is best known for organizing protests at the funerals of anti-LGBT hate crime victims, soldiers, and celebrities under the slogan “God Hates Fags.”
He also used to be a champion of civil rights.
That may be hard to believe now, but the evidence is undeniable. After moving to Topeka in 1954, Phelps developed a reputation for taking civil rights cases that other attorneys — black as well as white — refused handle. As fellow Kansas civil rights activist Jack Alexander later explained, most lawyers believed that anti-discrimination cases were risky because of “the chance they wouldn’t get paid.” Not only was Phelps an exception to that rule, but his reputation as a lawyer reached the point that he became the go-to litigator for victims of racist persecution. His most prominent cases included that of a black student who Phelps claimed was receiving an inferior education in Topeka schools, a class-action lawsuit against an elementary school for discriminating against non-white students, and a defense of the Jordan-Patterson American Legion Post after it was raided by law enforcement officers who had racially profiled its members.