Mayor says Westboro Baptist plans protest

The city of Ottumwa is preparing for some visitors that many area residents consider unwanted.

Rumors have been flying around town that the Westboro Baptist Church is planning a protest of Friday night's performance of "The Laramie Project" at Bridge View Center.

Ottumwa Mayor Frank Flanders told KTVO Thursday that the group has contacted Ottumwa City officials and members are planning a protest on Friday.

The Kansas-based church is famous for its over-the-top, confrontational protests of anything they believe promotes a gay agenda.

Flanders says the group doesn't merit special protection and that he is confident that Ottumwa residents will respond appropriately to any situation the protest might create.

â??I hope and believe that there will be no incident and what I am asking all citizens is to just show restraint. And for those that disagree with the Westboro Baptist Church, and I believe that to be the majority of Ottumwa, the best way to beat them is to ignore them,â?? said Mayor Flanders.

Flanders says that Ottumwa Police officers will keep a close eye on the protest just in case.

The controversial play was originally slated to be produced by Ottumwa High School students, but Ottumwa school administrators decided that the play was "too adult" for a high school performance.

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Curtains to open on 'The Laramie Project' Thursday