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November 21, 2010 10:15 PM

Protests In Downtown Sioux Falls

A Kansas protest group in Sioux Falls was met with its own protest today. The Westboro Baptist Church is known for radical anti-homosexual messages at military funerals. Sunday the group made its way to South Dakota.

They stood on opposite sides of the street with no chance of meeting in the middle. Local protesters banded together against a radical message from an extremist group. 

"Fred Phelps may have been the instigator for why people are here, but they're not the point," rally organizer Tove Bormes said. 

When she heard the Westboro Baptist church was sending a group to Sioux Falls, she wanted to do something and turned to the Internet for help.

"I put this little thing on Facebook and it has exploded beyond my wildest expectations," Bormes said, "I even had somebody call me from England."

"It gets me emotional because I'm so glad we can do this," said Sioux Falls Lincoln student Isabel Middleton-Watts.

She came to the protest with her mom and the Lincoln High School Gay Straight Alliance.

"I've been taught by my mom and everybody that loving everybody is what we do. Being accepting is who we are," Middleton-Watts said. 

The Westboro group says it targeted the downtown churches because of their open policies to the gay community.

"We hope to put these standards before these people and bind them to standards of God. That's all," Shirley Phelps-Roper said. 

It takes only a look to see Phelps protesters was outnumbered.

"If you're silent in front of hate you as well endorse it. It festers," Bormes said. 

"What is the point of hate? Hate...it's just gonna bring you down," Watts said. 

Protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church will also be at Washington High School in Sioux Falls and the University of South Dakota Monday. Another counter protest is planned at the U.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A misspelling was corrected in this story.

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