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Fusion Centers Track Westboro Baptist Church


by Jason Smathers on March 27, 2014

Fusion Centers are regional centers where intelligence and law enforcement agencies collaborate and share information. The US Marshals has several intelligence bulletins about the activities of Westboro Baptist Church created by various fusion centers. These records were provided in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Westboro Baptist Church is considered outside the realms of orthodox Christianity and is known for their protests at funerals and condemnation of homosexuals. The Virginia Fusion Center says “WBC alleges itself to be a ‘church,'” but it is clear they disagree with that assertion.

The Fusion Center intelligence bulletins discuss upcoming protests and a common theme appears in them. They note Westboro’s desire for media attention and the highly public nature of their activities. The possibility of violent escalation is often the concern being addressed. The Virginia Fusion Center reports “the controversial nature of the protests tends to invoke counter protests and creates a hostile environment that could readily evolve into violence.”

Using exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act, the US Marshals made several redactions before providing these records. Included with the Fusion Center intelligence bulletins were some emails to the US Marshals and six reports of investigation concerning the “church.”

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