The event was well attended. Brother Micah (abbreviated "BM" from here on out) was cordoned off for his own safety and for his own free speech, as was the group of activists that organized the counter protest. According to Lt. Ken Lewis, the reason for the physical separation was because technically they were two events. Because of the nature of the two events, they thought it was best to provide some physical separation, but only enough so that they could shout back and forth to each other. However, if you were not on the "counter protest" side, you had to mostly stay quiet unless you were engaging BM in meaningful dialogue.
The protestors, with rainbow flags and signs, were not there for meaningful dialogue.
No single group on campus organized the event, but was, instead, organized from the ground up by local activists. The UC groups assisted in promotion but it was no one person's baby. The crowd grew and shrunk as college students passed by between classes, and I would say that there was probably, at the largest point while I was there, a good 250-300 total individuals listening, and probably a good 100-150 counter protestors. There were some in the listening group that were there against BM, but they had to keep quiet.
I had a chance to speak to Kevin Wallen, a freshman at UC who is a devout Methodist and a reformed atheist, who was against BM. Why? "Because he preaches out of context to make it sound like Jesus is not accepting."
"It's blasphemous," freshman Mike Butler, freshman and Catholic, added. It was Butler's cross necklace that drove me to ask them their thoughts. They are, for the record, very much against the work of BM simply because of his judgmental nature and his blanket statements telling people they are going to hell. "You cannot say you are without sin," Butler added, moments before BM started quoting Matthew 7 -- "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Ironic, perhaps.
For their part, the "homoclub," as BM called them, were loud and raucous. They shouted jokes and taunts to the streetside preacher. I wonder, though, how helpful some of their ongoing commentary was -- asking BM when the last time he "fucked his wife in her ass" probably doesn't sit well with a loving and open movement. Nor do jokes about Jesus, for the record. The crowd did cheer everytime he said the word "homosexual," and they began chanting "No more hate" near the end of my time. BM responded, "BOOOOORING!"
Oh, Brother Micah?
It was an interesting experience, there on the campus, and I left feeling uncertain and unsure. The attendance was strong, the crowd was engaged, it seemed like a lot of fun, and there were some great signs and protestors... but, I wonder if there wasn't a better way to handle it. I bristled when the obscenities flew because I felt like it wasn't the best method. However, for their part, the UC students rocked it out today and I have to give 'em credit...
...they sure did give BM the hell he deserved.