Responding to Hate: A Message about the Hate Protests at Northern Illinois University
Word has spread rapidly about the fringe “religious” group (the WBC) that is bringing its agenda of hate and homophobia to our community as we grapple with the tragic events that happened on our campus.
Many students and others have come together through the Internet to voice their outrage and plan responses to the protestors. We understand that many people are angered and hurt by this blatant homophobia and the appalling attempt to capitalize on the NIU tragedy. The university is heartened and warmed by the outpouring of support from our students and community friends who share our outrage at this intrusion during this painful time.
We want everyone to know that the universityâ€™s response to the tragedy includes careful planning for managing the presence of any protestors. We ask everyoneâ€™s cooperation in supporting the universityâ€™s coordinated response.
A trained group of NIU students and supporters have organized and are working with law enforcement agencies to peacefully shield our grieving community from the presence of any hate protests by blocking the view of the small group of protestors who may be present.
The university requests your assistance in the following ways:
- If you are not a member of the trained team of shielders, please DO NOT come to the Convocation Center on Sunday, February 24 with the intent of “counter protesting.” The university asks that you help us by not giving the hate protestors the attention, publicity, and credibility that they are aiming for. As much as you might want to physically show your opposition to hate such as this, direct confrontations and “counter protests” only serve the purposes of this hate group.
- Instead of attempting to “counter protest,” please join our community at the Memorial Program to celebrate the lives of our fallen students, pay tribute to the injured, support our grieving families, and begin the process of moving forward. Please help us keep this occasion a peaceful, calm, and dignified evening of remembrance and healing.
- Encourage your friends, colleagues and others at the Memorial Program not to give their attention and emotional energy to the protestors, but to ignore them and move inside the building for the program. Please do not engage with the protesters in any way as this will only encourage them and attract more attention.
- Also be aware that protest groups such as this use pickets and an array of intimidating tactics to upset people, instigate violence and create scores of lawsuits that fund their work. Don’t become a victim of their tactics.
Please help us spread this message among your friends. We do not want the protestors to overshadow the true purpose of our gathering.
We also encourage everyone to remember that it was violence that brought us to this moment, and that despite how appalled we are by the actions of this hate group, responding with violent words and actions does not help our community heal. We must not be seduced into responding to hate with hate. We call upon all in our community to not let this hate group shift our focus from our mourning, our grief, and our healing. We call upon you to channel your outrage into action for justice wherever you live, study, and work.
For some ideas about how to channel your emotions into other, more productive channels, please visit our website at http://www.niu.edu/LGBT/tragedy/RespondingToHate.shtml for more information.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center
Holmes Student Center 704
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115