People in Sioux City Counter-Protest Westboro Baptist Church

Hundreds of people gathered in Downtown Sioux City and outside East High School to counter-protest the appearance of members from the controversial Westboro Baptist Church.

The members of Westboro were here protesting the appointment of Scott Raasch to the Sioux City Human Rights Commission.

The group based in Topeka, Kansas, is known for its anti-gay position, even going as far as picketing the funerals of military members.

The song "Hit the Road Jack" played loudly as members of the Westboro Baptist Church packed up their signs and began to leave East High School. But it all began in front of Sioux City's City Hall.

"I came out because I believe everybody is entitled to equal rights, equal opportunities, equal treatment and I feel the Westboro Baptist Church is a hate group," said Ethel Cunningham, a counter-protester down at City Hall.

People were out protesting against the people from Westboro with signs like "Give Peace a Chance", and "Love is Love."

"I want our elected officials to understand that the hatred that's coming out of Westboro is not the only thing here. I want them to know that they made the right decision in allowing gays to marry and that there are people in this town who want us to progress into a more sensible era," said Braden Albrecht, who was also counter-protesting at City Hall.

Cunningham says the counter-protest was a warm welcome for a couple who came up to her to say thank you.

"It was two women that were getting married today at the courthouse, so they we're pretty happy people were out here supporting them," she said.

Cunningham was also at East High School. It was the second stop for members of Westboro.
Hundreds of people showed up to counter-protest here too, including Brian Larson who brought a loudspeaker along.

"We're hoping it sends some music back that sticks in their head," he said.

Larson also brought along an important piece of American patriotism with a story of its own.

"I brought a flag along with me today that actually flew in Afghanistan and also flew on the Iowa State Capitol; I'm here to let them know, as a veteran, we're not going to put up with it," said Larson.

The Superintendent of Sioux City's schools, Paul Gausman, told Siouxland News that even though it's a lot of work to make sure there's crowd control and the kids are protected, it had to be done right.

No one was allowed near the school, and police helped control traffic in order to allow people to cross the streets.