Morgan Harrington case targeted in planned protest by hate group

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The same national hate group that recently stirred up emotions here in the Richmond-area is now creating more outrage with a planned protest involving Morgan Harrington. Westboro Baptist Church is scheduled to picket outside Virginia Tech in Blacksburg where Harrington was a student.

In a phone interview Thursday, not only did Morgan's mom, Gil Harrington, reveal new details about her daughter's murder but referred to Westboro Baptist, not as a church, but domestic terrorists.

It's like pouring salt into an open wound.

"It's just so unexpected. We were really blind-sided by this. We have already had our daughter abducted, raped, and murdered, and now we have this postmortem attack. We never saw any of this coming," said Gil Harrington.

On April 9, Westboro Baptist Church plans to picket Virginia Tech -- saying the recent murder of one of its students, is part of a curse from God. They've linked the 2007 Tech shootings to that same curse.

An Albemarle farmer found Morgan Harrington's skeletal remains in late January after she went missing from a Charlottesville concert.

"This is like the American Taliban. They have no personal animosity to me or to Morgan, but they're trying to create flames of fear and hatred in any arena they can," said Gil Harrington.

Last month, the same group demonstrated against gays and Jews in Richmond and Henrico. It's founder is also at the center of a legal fight. The father of a fallen marine sued because the group picketed his son's military funeral. Just this week, an appellate court in Richmond ruled in favor of Westboro, ordering the father to pay court costs. But the Supreme Court will now hear the case.

Gil Harrington may have been caught off guard by the hate group, but says Westboro shouldn't be allowed to go unchallenged.

"There needs to be some response, because no response allows them to keep growing unchallenged and unfettered," said Gil Harrington.

Westboro also plans to protest at Blacksburg High School and the Jewish Community Center. Virginia Tech students are planning to hold a silent protest in reaction to Westboro's presence next week.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.