Westboro Baptist Church, known for its messages against the LGBTQ community and others, turned its attention to Cincinnati on Wednesday with demonstrations at Oak Hills High School, The University of Cincinnati, and the Duke Energy Convention Center.
At the corner of Clifton Avenue and Martin Luther King on the University of Cincinnati campus, hundreds of counter-protestors surrounded five Westboro members, shouting "leave" and "love trumps hate."
UC student and Kentucky resident Andrew Smith carried a sign that read, "No Hate In My Holler." Lavonne Heisser was in the crowd, saying, "God doesn't hate anyone."
"It's just not right,” Heisser says. “We come to an institution to feel open and accepted and be ourselves and for certain people to feel like they are being targeted, it's just crazy."
According to Cincinnati.com, the Westboro Baptist Church - which is designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center - was protesting UC's LGBT center as well as the annual meeting of the National Baptist Convention USA Inc. in downtown Cincinnati.
One of the Westboro members talked to reporters. Sam Phelps-Roper says he wasn't bothered by the large number of counter-protestors.
"These are the people we came to preach to,” Phelps-Roger says. “Every one of the people read these words. That was our only goal."
He wants people punished who don't believe what he does.
“Hurricane Harvey’s a good start,” Phelps-Roger says. “There are so many ways this nation is being undone, not the least of which is this generation of dirt-dumb, lazy young people. That’s a curse.”
Police had a visible presence to make sure the demonstration was peaceful. Elizabeth Kennedy, of the Human Rights Campaign, went to the fenced-in area where the Westboro people were standing.
"Love will win and everyone is equal,” Kennedy says. “Why can't everyone just be kind?"
Westboro demonstrators left about a half hour after they came to UC.