A controversial group held a homophobic protest against football player Michael Sam.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church held anti-gay signs near Mizzou Arena before this afternoonâ??s basketball game.
The organization is known for protests at funerals of fallen soldiers because they believe God is punishing the United States for tolerating homosexuality. This time, the group targeted Sam and his Mizzou family.
Westboro Baptist Church member Shirley Phelps-Roper said, â??They comforted him in his sin, Michael Sam, this past week. They just absolutely went crazy when he announced and told the world he is a filthy pervert and a rebel against God. They fawned all over him.â??
Mizzou sophomores Kelaney Lakers and Alix Carruth used Facebook to organize a counter protest. Hundreds showed up and created a silent human wall in solidarity to Sam and their Mizzou family.
Lakers said, â??Weâ??re both Christians. The thing is God is love. What they are doing is hateful, but being hateful is a sin. Weâ??re also supposed to show love to them. We are not going to be yelling things at them or be vulgar. Itâ??s not about that.â??
Carruth said, â??We donâ??t want to fight fire with fire on any level.â??
Westboro Baptist Church members said they have 3 words for Michael Sam. Repent or perish. Counter protestors had a message of their own. Students wore T-shirts and buttons to show their support for Sam.
Mizzou alumnus John Varvaro said, â??Their opinions are few. If thatâ??s what they want to say thatâ??s fine. Obviously, thereâ??s a lot more people that disagree with them.â??
University Police said there were no problems or issues at the protest.
The last time Westboro Baptist Church protested in Columbia was 2 years ago at the funeral of Army Specialist Sterling Wyatt.