Westboro Baptist Church members have announced they will stop in Columbia on May 14 on their way to St. Louis to protest an Elton John concert, but it's not uncommon for Westboro protesters not to show.
In an interview with Tribune reporter Sara Semelka, one member of the group, Shirley Phelps-Roper, said: “It was a deliberate, in-your-face affront to the plain standards of God. The domestic partner registry is just one more flip-off to God. … A nation that rises up and says it’s OK to be gay is a doomed nation.”
This type of protest is reminiscent of the March 2007 neo-Nazi parade, when members of the National Socialist Movement marched down Ninth Street to protest the "Marxism" at MU.
In 2007, police urged residents to stay away, but hundreds showed up to protest the 20-man march.
Stephens College student Katelyn DeShazo has begun organizing a counter-protest, but it's likely police will ask citizens to stay away again.
Obviously the more people who show up, the more potential there is for violence, but turning the cold shoulder to hate-groups will never be effective unless every single resident does it, which is unlikely.
What is the best way to deal with hate groups coming to Columbia?