Westboro descends on Spokane Thursday

SPOKANE - Counter protests and demonstrations are planned across The Inland Northwest Thursday to drown out the voices of the Westboro Baptist Church.

The group?s website posts a tight schedule Thursday starting 11 a.m. at Gonzaga, then visiting Whitworth University, Ferris High School, Eastern Washington University and a South Hill Synagogue before the day is done.

Wednesday night, the schools and Synagogue are preparing for the unwelcome visitors. Gonzaga is organizing a sit-in on campus, a silent demonstration during the Westboro protest.

"Their messages are steeped in hatred, steeped in ignorance," said Gonzaga senior Drew Pollom. "They say they are trying to preach the gospel of our Lord - that's just simply not true."

Pollom, who is organizing Gonzaga's sit-in, says there will be no tolerance for violence or hate from anyone who chooses to take part in his demonstration.

"If you plan on coming to our thing and roughing up Westboro Baptist Church members, then you are not welcome, you're not what we want," he said. "What we want is people coming together for the right reasons - which is a community of peace, love and tolerance."

Whitworth is hosting a love run in the Pine Bowl during the time of Westboro?s protest and Spokane Public Schools say they plan on ignoring Westboro but will hold several ?strategy meetings? throughout the day in the event they may need to react.

At Eastern Washington University, students plan on counter-protesting Westboro. A student has sent out a Facebook event invite encouraging other students to show up at all Westboro protest sites.

Westboro?s website says the protesters only plan on being at each location for 30 minutes. In an email, Whitworth even points out that considering Westboro?s history and tactics they might not show up or follow through with their plans.

Westboro?s website also indicates they will protest in Coeur d?Alene on Friday