Westboro Baptist Church met by large crowd in Ames
Protesters display a variety of signs during a rally against the Westboro Baptist Church, Friday, July 24, 2009, on the corner of Lincoln Way and University. The Westboro Baptist Church came to Iowa to protest against the legalization of gay marriage, and was met with a large counter-protest. Photo: Logan Gaedke/Iowa State Daily

UPDATE: Ames Police said in a meeting at the Wesley Center on Sunday there will be no parking for protesters at Ames High School, but North Minister has offered parking.

ISU Police said the Westboro protesters will be stationed at the corner of Lincoln Way and Morrill Road, near the Memorial Union. 

There will be a demonstration safety team from Student Affairs, which will focus on the mental safety of students while campus police will focus on students' physical safety.

ORIGINAL: The Ames community, including Ames Pride, Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation and other faith communities are coming together to support students at Ames High School this Monday due to the scheduled arrival of the Westboro Baptist Church.

“Hallelujah! The next crop of rebels in Ames, Iowa will be blessed with gospel preaching on Monday, April 8th,” according to a press release on the Westboro Baptist Church website.

Three individuals from the Westboro Baptist Church will be at Ames High School from 7:20 to 7:50 a.m. which is around the time that students are arriving at school. Members of the church will be along Ridgewood Avenue, which is away from the Ames High entrance. The group has also said they have intentions to protest on Iowa State's campus from 8:05 to 8:35 a.m., but the location is still unknown.

“Ames Police will establish a zone for [Westboro] that includes a separation space between them and other community groups also planning to organize at that time with messaging of tolerance and support,” according to an Ames Community School District press release.

The Ames Community School District also stated in their press release that they support their students and denounce the Westboro messaging of intolerance. The district said all Ames High students are aware of the protest and have self-organized activities away from the protest and in support of each other.

“Ames Pride believes in love over hate, action over apathy and good over evil,” according to a Facebook post on the Ames Pride page. “When hate comes to our home we are compelled to action.”

Tara Andrews, chair of Ames Pride, said that Ames Pride is part of the larger community going out to support Ames High School students, faculty and staff and this is really about community coming together to protect and show support and love for the gender and sexual minorities at Ames High.

The Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation will be using a van to get from their church to Ames High at 6:45 a.m. and have offered others in the community to meet them at the church before heading to Ames High.

“In the midst of all of the other things going on in our individual and communal lives, this unfortunate event is an invitation to us to continue to live into our purpose as a congregation and to show up for our community and students with a message of love, acceptance and justice,” according to a Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation press release.

Jen Hibben, associate pastor and campus pastor for the Wesley Foundation, said the Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation will be focusing their energy, love and support on the students of Ames High rather than engaging with the Westboro Baptist Church.

Westboro will then move to an unknown location on the Iowa State campus to protest from 8:05 to 8:35 a.m.

ISU Police have talked with Westboro representatives in an effort to ensure safety for their demonstrators and any counter-protestors. Iowa State administrators and police will monitor the activities.

“The messages of this group directly conflict with Iowa State’s inclusive, supportive environment and the values we share through our Principles of Community,” said John McCarroll, executive director for the Office of University Relations. “However, the First Amendment protects free speech and expression, even when it is hateful, hurtful and offensive.”

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