The Naugatuck Police Department says it has received many calls from residents and statewide media regarding rumors about the Westboro Baptist Church's plans to picket at a vigil planned tonight on the Town Green to honor Sandy Hook Elementary School victims.
Lt. Bryan Cammarata, Naugatuck police spokesman, reached out to Naugatuck Patch to assure residents they "have nothing to worry about."
"We don't anticipate any kind of problems, but we are taking precautions just in case," he said, adding that Westboro Baptist Church members have not attempted to receive a permit to protest at tonight's vigil. "We have heard the same rumors as everyone else. But we want to make sure people know that they should attend the vigil if they had planned to. This should be their time to grieve and it will be a safe place to do just that. They should not stay home or keep their children home because of this. We will have plenty of officers on hand to handle any situation that could arise. Again, we do not anticipate an issue, but we are preppared just in case."
Tonight's vigil is planned for 6 on the Naugatuck Town Green, at the corner of Division and Church streets. In case of rain, it will be moved into the Naugatuck Congregational Church at 1 Division St., also known as Frank Johnson Way.
The Westboro Baptist Church, according to Time Magazine, has made threats to protest at funerals or services for those who died in the Sandy Hook shootings. They say deaths are punishment from God and believe a reason is because prayer in not allowed in schools.
"Westboro Baptist Church has made many enemies thanks in large part to its practice of demonstrating at the funerals of of U.S. soldiers, AIDS patients and celebrities — whose deaths, according to the church, are punishments from God," Time magazine states. Read more on the Time website here.
The Huffington Post, which, like Patch is an Aol. property, reported that Wesboro Church members plan to protest vigils for Sandy Hook.
"Members of the Westboro Baptist Church say that America is being punished for its acceptance of gays and lesbians. In recent days, Phelps family members have sent tweets about the Connecticut shooting that have said 'God sent the shooter,'" the Huffington Post reports.
Rumors that Church members are staying in Naugatuck have been unfounded so far. Patch called the Naugatuck Motor Lodge Monday night, and the manager there said someone from the Westboro Baptist Church had called at 5:30 p.m. yesterday inquiring about rooms but said he would call back and never did. The manager told Patch that he would not rent rooms to church members.
So far, Westboro Baptist Church members have not shown up to vigils regarding the Sandy Hook incident. People organizing tonight's events, however, are encouraging many people to attend tonight so that those who want to mourn will far outnumber any potential protestors.