Cloaked in a green trenchcoat on a rainy, gray Monday morning, Pasha Ripley lofted a rainbow umbrella on the corner of Towerview and Erwin roads on Duke’s campus, attempting to block the view of a half dozen signs smattered in fake blood and flames.

“God sent the shooter,” read one. Another was even more on-brand: “God still hates fags.” 

The Westboro Baptist Church had decided to hock their brand of hate on the corner, so Ripley, founder of the anti-hate speech organization Parasol Patrol, decided to join them.

Turns out, her trademark umbrella was more useful than usual. Although members of WBC came threatening hellfire, they were scared off by just a few drops of rain. 

The church announced plans to preach on campus earlier this month in response to a speech at Duke Law School in October by First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, who called the church’s demonstrations outside military funerals—where WBC members held signs reading “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” near families attempting to mourn—“outrageous, mean-spirited, harmful speech.” 

This, the WBC says, was just too far over the line. Abram’s take was “unfair” and “antichristic,” they said. The protest was planned in response. 

“Our protest is not about our butthurt, but about concern for our neighbors’ souls,” WBC wrote in a press release.

Clapping back at Abrams was such a priority that a whopping three WBC members made it to Duke Monday, the final stop on a tour of North Carolina campuses. The church—if you can call them that—has held more than 65,200 demonstrations “opposing all manner of sin” since 1991. Some of their “peaceful, religious” signage includes slogans like  “God Hates Jews,” “Thank God for AIDS,” and of course, “God Hates Fags.”

Fourteen Duke student groups chose not to stage counter-protest WBC to avoid drawing more attention to the church and deny them a platform. Duke’s Vice President for Public Affairs and Governmental Relations Michael Schoenfeld condemned the demonstration and banned the group from setting up on Duke Law School’s private property. 

“We deplore any efforts to intimidate individuals through demonstrations of hatred, bias, and homophobia,” Schoenfeld said in a statement.

So WBC decided to move further down the road to the corner of Towerview and Erwin, where ten members of Parasol Patrol would be waiting across the street with their rainbow umbrellas.

Ripley and Eli Bazen, Parasol Patrol’s other founder, flew from Colorado to assist in blocking the WBC’s demonstration.

It was over as quickly as it began. The three WBC members held two signs in each hand—no room for umbrellas—and had forgone coats in favor of t-shirts bearing their hate-fill messages. Mother nature was not on their side. Raindrops plopped down from the gray sky, soaking their signs. After just five minutes, the three demonstrators silently knelt to the round, packed up their signs and walked away without a word. 

Not a single student had passed by. No one had heard them “preach.” 

Despite a long flight for just five minutes of protest, “we wouldn’t have it any other way,” says Ripley. “This is what we want to happen at these protests.”