‘F**king Witch!’ Florida Pagan Family The Target Of Hate Crimes

Kyrja & Randy Withers

Kyrja & Randy Withers. Photo from Lady Liberty League’s facebook page.

In what can only be described as hate crime, a Pagan family in Florida has been harassed and even had their house fired on. The Withers live in New Port Richey, Florida in a house they call the Glitter Dome. They painted it in kaleidoscopic hues to make people who see it happy. But some of their neighbors didn’t get the memo.

It began as drive-by yelling and horn-blowing but soon escalated as a pellet gun was fired into the home’s windows. Then, 2 weeks ago – on the same day as the Boston Marathon bombings — two acid bombs were tossed into their yard. Kyrja (KEE-ruh) Withers says that the situation has become very tense:

“We couldn’t sit down to our dinner table for one hour, not for one hour without being concerned that someone else was coming by to do something to us.”

Kyrja is a children’s book author, writing about a bunny named Rupert who learns about Pagan holidays. She began writing when she lost her job in the construction industry in 2008. Like many who come to Paganism from other faiths (Kyrja was a Catholic), she found herself judged by others, often hearing about how she would burn in hell. To help counter the misinformation about Pagans, Kyrja began writing Rupert’s Tales, children’s stories about love, tolerance and acceptance.

Apparently her choice of topics doesn’t sit too well with some of New Port Richey’s other, less civilized residents. At first, they drove by and yelled things like, “F**king witch!” Then someone fired pellets at the home she shares with her husband, Randy, and his daughter, Heather. In the latest attack, on April 22nd, a blue car drove by, circled back and then a boy inside threw 2 bottles of liquid. Heather was outside the house and saw the car and the two young men inside as they tossed the 2 acid bombs her way. She suffered from chemical inhalation and is being treated physically but the emotional effects are still with her.

“Every time I close my eyes, I see the bottle expanding.”

Local authorities, who are, thankfully, taking this seriously and treating it as a hate crime, are being aided by the Lady Liberty League. The LLL is a national organization that supports and helps Pagans with civil rights and religious freedom cases. Executive Director Selena Fox is grateful for the attention the authorities are giving to this case

“We are assisting law enforcement in helping protect Kyrja, her family, and home. Many of LLL’s recommendations for the Withers have now been put into effect. The organization will continue to assist law enforcement and work with Kyrja and her family to ensure their safety as the situation unfolds.”

The Withers are offering a $200 reward for information leading to an arrest. A crowd funding drive to raise money for a security system for the Withers’ home reached its goal of $1200 in less than 48 hours. Instead of hiding and giving in to the fear that her attackers wish her to feel, Kyrja is still writing, still lecturing and still reaching out to her community.

“We need to be out and say who we are. I am a witch. Come and find out who I am.”

Photobucket      T. Steelman is a life-long Liberal. She has been writing online about politics since 2007. She lives in Western Washington with her husband, daughter, 2 cats and a small herd of alpacas. How can anybody be enlightened? Truth is, after all, so poorly lit…