This was the scene when I arrived. The intersection is Berlin Turnpike and Patrick Henry Drive. It was a gray, gray morning, and certainly not very picturesque as Patrick Henry College has some construction going on for a new Student Life Center.
The no trespassing zone was marked by the yellow police tape. I had a press pass so I was allowed on campus. The Soulforcers were singing "Amazing Grace" and "We Shall Overcome" - some had very good voices.
Behind the police line facing the Soulforcers. Police and media outnumbered the protesters two to one. There were Purcellville Police, Loudoun Sheriff officers, and State Police. This wasn't Patrick Henry's call, but the response by peacekeeping officials to local groups like Equality Loudoun and their compatriots in other counties who'd been urging people to charter buses to come and join the protest. The police wanted to be prepared for anything.
As it turned out, the support never materialized. At the height of the demonstration (shown here), I counted the protesters: 52 in all. This view is looking north up the line.
Looking south down the line.
Everyone looked very somber. Here is the phone number for any allegedly repressed Patrick Henry College students to call.
That's David Weintraub on the right. Though I've talked to his partner Jonathan on the phone, this was the first time I'd met them in person. We agreed to have coffee together sometime and talk.
This was the view north of the line - the State Police cars are lined up down this side road.
People standing around trying to make something interesting out of - well, nothing much, really.
This was the moment everyone was waiting for: two Soulforcers cross the no trespassing line so they can be arrested.
The police officer walks along beside one of the two Soulforcers as though according to an unwritten script for the media event.
The officer leads the Soulforcers and the media gaggle around to the waiting police van.
I think this was reading them their rights - I couldn't hear.
Soulforce chose two of its black members for the symbolic arrests in Purcellville. With their media savvy, they probably figured it would play better in the Washington Post since this is still a somewhat rural and mostly white neighborhood.
These guys really had their facial expressions geared to garner sympathy.
Can't wait to see how the press will play this. The officer is explaining the sequence of events: two officers witll be assigned to handcuff them.
Small media frenzy.
Getting loaded into the van.
Even the sheriff's office needs photos.
On their way to be booked.
This was the view from inside. The chain link fence is there only because there has been construction going on at PHC for months. Wonder if it will be used to misrepresent the college, which is usually wide open.
Desperate for a story of some kind.
Sometimes I took a picture because there was just so little happening :)
This is the main building of Patrick Henry College, where a press conference was scheduled at noon.
A few students came out to answer questions. This is Justin Reddington, a transfer student from Vancouver, Washington, who said that the image some have of PHC students as ignorant homeschoolers who don't know what liberals or homosexuals think is far from the truth. "We're exposed to all arguments here. There are lots of ideas flying around. This exposure leads to some students being reaffirmed in what their parents taught them, but it also leads some to change their minds. The student body here is diverse and we are a melting pot of ideas."
Patrick Henry had offered to set up a debate at a neutral venue with individuals from Soulforce. But Soulforce wasn't interested in anything other than their own agenda.
Something you don't see every day at the campus - the sheriff's mobile unit and the ambulance - just in case.
The media gathered in a classroom for a press conference. There were twenty of us.
Mike Farris began "A fair question to ask the protesters is what has Patrick Henry College done to you to bring you here today?" He asserted that they came not to dialogue but to silence our voice. "Why should they care that we say that homosexual behavior is immoral?" Their objective is to drown out our voice here and everywhere. But they can't silence the voice of God. (paraphrase except where quoted). Questions included "Who requested the state police presence?" (not PHC but local authorities); "Any consequences for students attending the Soulforce meeting at the White Palace tonight?" (No); "What does false 'false teacher' mean?" (People who deny the authority of God while claiming to embrace him); "Are there any New Testament verses against homosexuality?" (Romans 1); "What about research that shows people are born with a propensity to homosexuality?" Research is shaped by a worldview. "I have sympathy for anyone who is tempted by sin because I am tempted by sin. We all are tempted by sin."
This is how things looked when I left.