By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — In the wake of President Barack Obama’s support of the mosque and community center near Ground Zero, opponents of the project are ramping up plans for a major protest on the afternoon of Sept. 11.
"[Obama] has now turned our Ground Zero protest on 9/11 into a mega-event," wrote Pamela Geller, executive director of Stop Islamization of America and organizer of the demonstration.
"The very idea of a 15-story mega-mosque on hallowed ground in indecent, offensive and outrageous."
More than 300 people have said on Facebook that they plan to attend the 2 p.m. protest on Park Place, in front of the planned site of the $100 million center, called Park51.
Many of the attendees are traveling from across the country and plan to meet up along the way, creating a "Stars and Stripes Caravan." The procession will start on the West Coast on Sept. 6 and arrive in New York in time for the protest.
So far, people from more than 15 states plus Canada hope to join the caravan.
Geller wrote on her blog that she wants the 9/11 protest to be a "solemn" event, starting with an interfaith prayer and the playing of Taps. Geller is asking those who participate not to bring inflammatory signs, but to stick with messages focused on the mosque.
According to Geller, confirmed speakers include 9/11 family members; former ambassador John Bolton; Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representative; Ginny Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; and right-wing writer and commentator Andrew Breitbart.
Geller also organized the June 6 protest near Ground Zero that attracted hundreds of people.