Protests planned around UNI performance - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Protests planned around UNI performance

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL)-- Students conducted a protest on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa Monday night.  Hundreds gathered in front of the Gallagher-Bluedorn in support of the homosexual community.

The event was organized after students got word that the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kans. was planning to protest events at the college called "Standing on Higher Ground."  But no members of the church appeared to protest as scheduled. 

Monday night, "The Laramie Project" film was shown in the Gallagher-Bluedorn.  The film is based around Matthew Shepard, a young homosexual man from Wyoming who was murdered back in 1998.  Thursday night, Shepard's mother Judy is set to speak at UNI.  And the college will perform "The Laramie Project" play in October.  Westboro's website shows scheduled picketing at both of those events.  UNI students are planning additional counter-protests to show support and tolerance toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.

In an email forwarded to KWWL, the college's Dean of Students Jon Buse encouraged students to keep the counter-protest peaceful in order to promote a message of tolerance. 

"Looked at appropriately, these events give us the opportunity to live our project title and operate from higher ground. The Phelps congregation tries to invite conflict through shouting, offensive signage, and the incitement of violence. We have the opportunity to respond to hate with peaceful disagreement, solidarity, and openness to their voices of intolerance," Buse and Steve Carignan, Assistance Vice President of the Gallagher-Bluedorn said in a prepared statement.
 
According to the Westboro Church's website, this protest is part of an ongoing picketing tour that's been conducted for several years.
 
"WBC will remind Laramie Project attendees and cast that the only truth coming out of that piece of fag propaganda is the message they receive from our signs. Any other message promoted by that play is a lie that will lead you to Hell," the site said.
 
KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek
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