Neither protesters nor police are planning on a riot this Homecoming weekend.
Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church and CSU’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Student Services are planning a peaceful protest in the parking lot of Hughes Stadium on Saturday. Neither organization is planning on using violence as a way of protest.
Shirley Phelps-Roper, attorney for Westboro Baptist, said the group has been protesting homosexuality for more than 12 years. When they travel to protest, they do not bring signs with sticks on them because many jurisdictions around the country don’t allow protesters to carry sticks.
“We do a peaceful, lawful, standing-on-the-sidewalk kind of a thing,” Phelps-Roper said.
Their protesting will offend people, but hopefully not to the point of violence, Phelps-Roper said.
“Chances are pretty good that there will be some people that are angry,” Phelps-Roper said, “but probably no riot will break.”
GLBT is also planning on a non-violent protest. Wednesday and Thursday of this week, they passed out buttons and stickers on the Lory Student Center Plaza so those that wish to can physically support them, GLBT student coordinator Rod Rodriguez said.
“We are trying to create a peaceful, positive presence,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez, a senior journalism major, will be one of many students peacefully protesting “hate in general” at Saturday’s game, he said.
“We are trying to prevent anything (violent) from happening,” Rodriguez said.
CSU police are hoping that no violence will develop out of these protests. Police don’t get involved until free speech turns into disorderly conduct, CSU Police Captain Bob Chaffee said.
“The line is drawn based on other people’s behavior,” he said.
A number of CSUPD and Fort Collins Police Service officers will be around to create a “physical presence,” Chaffee said. In case a riot does break, CSUPD and FCPS will try to intervene early and remove those that are causing the problem.
“We’re doing our best to make it safe for everyone,” Chaffee said.
Edited by Becky Waddingham, Colleen Buhrer and Shandra Jordan