Atlanta artist and Dad’s Garage communications director Matt Terrell decided to do something about the anti-LGBTQ protesters at the Atlanta Pride Festival earlier this month.
So he came up with the idea to create a barrier that both protects Pride participants from hate speech and reflects the animosity back at the protesters.
After three years of crafting this idea for a working piece of protection, Terrell came up with The Hate Shield.
The front is a rainbow design, which faces the Pride-goers. The back, which faced the protesters, is covered in mirrored panels, so the anti-LGBTQ protesters see themselves. This mobile soundproof wall also helped reduce protest noise such as megaphones by nearly 25%. Terrell tested it with a megaphone and noticed the drop from 94 decibels to 72 with just one panel.
“After watching the anti-protesters show up to every LGBTQ event year after year, I decided I wanted to do something about it. So I built The Hate Shield. This year we decided very militaristically to let the preachers get in place and get comfortable. We had Pansy Patrol out in front, those are the people chanting ‘love,’ and then a few minutes into the event we walked right in with The Hate Shield and put it up,” he said. “It was immediately such a noticeable difference on the other side. You could barely hear the preachers yelling such terrible vitriol. It wasn’t that we just blocked sound, but we also blocked all sight lines of these people.
“I wanted to nonviolently minimize them. I didn’t want to add anymore chaos or anymore energy. I wanted everything that was being bounced back at them to simply be their own words, their own images, their own signs, their own energy.”
This story was originally published with audio on WABE.org.