Skip to main content

Mizzou stands with Sam, stands down Westboro protesters with human wall

By Colette Bennett, HLNtv.com
updated 8:14 PM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church (pictured above at a previous protest) attempted to protest at the University of Missouri, but were blocked by a human wall of students.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church (pictured above at a previous protest) attempted to protest at the University of Missouri, but were blocked by a human wall of students.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Westboro Baptist Church staged a protest Saturday at the University of Missouri
  • Students organized an event to support the school and football star Michael Sam
  • Students formed a human wall that blocked off Westboro protesters
  • Sam recently revealed that he is gay

(CNN) -- When 14 members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church showed up at the University of Missouri Saturday to protest the presence of openly gay football player Michael Sam at an NCAA basketball game against Tennessee, they were in for a bit of a surprise.

Sam, who acknowledged he is gay on February 9, has received a great deal of support from around the globe, but his fellow students were about to go one step further.

Missouri students Kelaney Lakers and Alix Carruth organized an event called "One Wall, One Mizzou," which drew hundreds of people to the campus Saturday afternoon for the purpose of supporting Sam. According to the group event's Facebook page, the students planned to form a human wall to block off the Westboro protesters.

"The focus of this wall is unification behind Sam to represent this school as One," the Facebook page stated. A total of 4,952 people responded to the page.

Ex-church member: They brainwashed me

The Westboro protesters had announced that they planned to show up at 1:30 p.m., so the Mizzou students assembled at 1 p.m. and formed a long human chain that surrounded the campus. Many wore the school colors of black and gold and carried handmade signs that used the hashtag #StandwithSam. By the time Westboro protestors did arrive, all they could do was wave their signs, because they couldn't get close to the school.

HLN affiliate KMIZ reported that police were on hand for the event, but that the Westboro protesters and the event attendees did not have any negative interactions.

"We're thankful that both groups kept it professional in the fact of how they expressed their points of view," university police department Capt. Brian Weime told KMIZ. "There were no problems or issues between the groups which is good."

University Vice Chancellor Dr. Catherine C. Scroggs, who also attended the event, told HLN that she was very happy with the way students conducted themselves.

"The way they addressed it made us proud," Scroggs said. "The Missouri Students Association was also on hand, giving out 'Stand with Sam' buttons to administrators and students. They ran out and they had a thousand, so we know at least that many people were there!"

The university tweeted photos from the event from their official account:

Tweet: @Mizzou The line of Mizzou students stretched from Providence to nearly Champions Drive at its peak. #StandWithSam

Tweet: @Mizzou #Mizzou students linked arms and sang our fight songs and the alma mater. #StandWithSam

Sam showed his gratitude by tweeting to supporters: @MikeSamFootball Thank you for all of my Mizzou family for your support. Divided we are weak, Together We are Strong. #OneMizzou

At halftime of the basketball game, the school presented its football team with the Cotton Bowl trophy. Sam raised it high, to a standing ovation.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:18 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 11:54 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
If India and the U.S. were Facebook friends, the relationship between them would undoubtedly be "complicated." Can the U.S. Secretary of State's visit change that?
updated 10:38 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The death of an American from Ebola fuels fears of the further global spread of the virus.
updated 2:35 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Take a look inside Airbus' new -- and surprisingly quiet -- A350XWB.
updated 3:46 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Flowers, a teddy bear and the smells of jet fuel and death haunt the MH17 crash site.
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Nearly two weeks after MH17 was blown out of the sky, Dutch investigators have yet to lay eyes on the wreckage. How useful will it be now?
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The U.S. and EU are imposing new sanctions on Moscow -- but will they have any effect?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT