Fewer than 10 members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church picketed in three Jefferson City locations Tuesday, but they were met with dozens of mid-Missourians calling for peace and love.
"People were gonna be here looking at them whether or not we were here,â?? Haley Quinn, who organized the counter protest, said.
â??So we thought as long as people are gonna be here, we don't want that to be the only thing they see today."
"If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything,â?? Jefferson City resident Nabeal Abouhal, said.
â??And I believe that if people don't stand against them, more people will join them instead of realize how they're spreading the word of hate."
"You don't breed hate and teach hate to be a Christian, you have to breed love and teach love and compassion and understanding,â?? Holts Summit resident Michelle Hopper said.
Margie Phelps, of the Westboro Baptist Church, said the group chose to picket in Jefferson City as a statement to Governor Jay Nixon. Phelps said Nixon is responsible for the unrest in Ferguson because as head of state, he has control of the police force.
Phelps said they chose to picket at Lincoln University and Jefferson City High School because students have been â??lied toâ?? since birth; Phelps explained this meant that youth were taught that things like homosexuality and premarital sex are okay.
Phelps said the Westboro Baptist Church has been spreading their message around Missouri for 10 years.
"And next thing, we look up and you're all applauding Michael Sam, who has got one attribute that everyone knows about...he's a proud homosexual,â?? Phelps said.
â??This state is doomed. This will be the epicenter of where the destruction begins."
Police monitored the sites of all the protests, but both groups remained composed.
In the end, Quinn said the Churchâ??s visit brought the community together.
"There are all kinds of people here, you can see that. There are people from different kinds of political persuasions, different religions, and the important thing is that no matter what else we agree or disagree on we all agree that that's not what our community is about. That this community is not about violence and it's not about hate,â?? Quinn said.