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Westboro Baptist Church may have canceled protest, but DU diversity rally to go on

The Westboro Baptist Church canceled a protest today at the DU Hillel, one of three planned picketing sites.

However, a diversity rally to counter the WBC's message of hate, planned this evening at an undisclosed time and location, will still go on. And thanks to the no-show, details can now be shared.

According to Hillel campus director Josh Samet, the gathering is slated for 7 p.m. tonight on DU's Driscoll Green; it'll be moved to a nearby location inside if the weather doesn't cooperate.

"It's basically a rally showing that the university is diverse and united," he notes. "There'll be a few speakers -- students and possibly people around the DU community talking about diversity and what it means. And there may also be a candle-lighting."

Despite being encouraged to ignore the Westboro invasion, Samet says up to a hundred students, many with signs, showed up outside the Hillel offices just after 9 a.m. today. They were greeted by a police officer who informed them the picketing had been called off. Some students left at that point, but others stuck around and demonstrated anyhow.

Samet can only speculate about whether the Westboro protesters stayed away due to travel conditions, as they maintain, or if they steered clear because the Hillel and the Douglas County School District, which expected the WBC at this morning's Ponderosa High School graduation, encouraged simply ignoring the displays.

Whatever the case, he says the non-event has spurred communication on campus. "It's interesting how some of the best conversations come out of the toughest situations," he says.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Top 8 Westboro Baptist Church insults against Colorado."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
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