In response to an announced protest by a well known hate group, the Westboro Baptist Church, students and faculty of Western Illinois have planned a counter-protest scheduled this Saturday.
The Westboro Baptist Church is based out of Topeka, Kan., and has gained infamy through their various protests throughout the country. The church is vehemently against homosexuality and the gay rights movements as seen through their website name, “GodHatesF-gs.com.” Westboro has protested the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks along with the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. in 2012. They have chosen to come to Western to protest Jake Bain, the openly gay defensive-back of the Indiana State Sycamores.
The WIU Rally for Love Facebook page has over 1,400 people interested in going to the counter-protest. The page already has 577 members of the community that have pledged to attend the event.
The protest has nine events planned including five guest speakers. The event starts at 11 a.m. where Dannie Kyle is scheduled to kick off the event in the southeast section of Q-Lot, closest to the Tanner Hall circle. Following Kyle, indie band Father Talljasper will speak to the crowd before they move inside Tanner Hall. Due to the forecast of 23-degree weather with snow showers, the event will also be moved inside of Tanner Hall.
Another music act will kick off the event in Tanner Hall as The Lone Daisy is scheduled to perform at 11:15 a.m. as Father Talljasper performs in the parking lot.
Knox College student Eli Hicks is next on the agenda to speak in Tanner Hall at noon. Hicks will be traveling from Galesburg to oppose Westboro. Hicks is encouraging fellow students to travel to Macomb on Saturday.
“I’m here, I’m queer, we will not disappear,” Hicks posted on her Facebook page on Thursday afternoon. “If members of the Knox community are struggling to get transportation, message me and I’ll see what I can do.”
Two more bands will play at 12:15 p.m. with Chew Toy performing on the Q-Lot stage and Two Cents in Tanner. To close out the scheduled events, Josua Allen and Terribly Happy will be in Tanner Hall.
The WIU Rally for Love’s Facebook page has advertised free t-shirts for attendees. However, community members are encouraged to get to the event early, as there will only be 100 shirts donated to the rally. Making signs is encouraged but there will also be some there for anybody who doesn’t have the means to make one. Additionally, official Rally for Love Snapchat filters are being offered for anyone who uses the app on Saturday.
Parking for the rally will be available in the northeast section of Q-Lot and include rows A-D, adjacent to the rally space.