Main | Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Truth About Phyllis Burgess

There's more to the story of Phylliss Burgess, 69, the "Styrofoam Cross Lady" that is currently the darling of Christianist websites after her cross was ripped from her hands and stomped during a Prop 8 rally in Palm Springs. If you buy the story being told on right-wing sites, Burgesss is a frail, elderly, innocent victim of "gay fascists."

But it turns out that Burgess is somewhat of a professional rabble-rouser and has disrupted at least several other LGBT events, including Palm Springs Gay Pride. Burgess even showed up to protest at the White Party, a giant circuit party held every spring..

On CNN's iReport, a witness to the cross incident tells a somewhat different version of the event than the one depicted on the news video that is on so many right-wing sites.
At City Hall a woman with a huge styrofoam cross appeared screaming about YES on 8 at the back of the crowd of NO on 8 supporters --their rally. She wanted to get to where the speakers were up front and I saw her knock a disabled man, a NO on 8 supporter to the ground, screaming, "Get out of my way!". People in the crowd around her tore away her cross and threw it to the ground and began pushing her. Local CBS channel 2 and KMIR channel 6 videotaped the woman being shoved and then interviewed her, ignoring the poor disabled man who was attacked first. Later after all of the rally, march and protest were over I watched the news which headlined this as "Gay Protest Turns Violent!"
Mike Tidmus has posted an excellent recap of the Burgess story, and suggests that we watch this video of the event for a clearer idea of Burgess' tactics.
If you study the video from KESQ, you’ll see Ms Burgess emerge, not from the sidelines, but directly through the middle of the crowd. You’ll also note that the news anchor recognizes Burgess, because this is not Burgess’ first visit to an anti-Prop-8 event. She showed up to protest five days earlier at the Palm Springs Gay Pride Parade.
Burgess is apparently well-known to the Palm Springs police and she informed them in advance that she would be attending the No On 8 candlelight vigil during which the cross incident occurred. Several days later, new cross in hand, she again appeared, this time at the Palm Springs Village Fest, telling the press, "I have a right to be here. It's not to antagonize, but it exposes where the hatred is."

Check out Burgess' MySpace page in which she rails against gay rights. The gay people who snatched and stomped Burgess' cross were definitely in the wrong, but it's clear that she is a professional agitator and hardly an "innocent victim."

(Via - Mike Tidmus)

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