CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There are the protests, by a certain out-of-state church group. And there is the "Stop the Hate Rally" Thursday afternoon at the state Capitol, hastily organized as an alternative.
"This is going to be a rally celebrating inclusiveness in our community," said Deb Weinstein, director of the Charleston YWCA and one of the event's organizers.
"It's going to be positive, uplifting and short, celebrating our community, celebrating our differences," she said.
"Given that our community is being targeted by hatemongers, we felt it would be appropriate to have a rally celebrating diversity. While there are people who would attempt to bring hate and bigotry into this community, this community doesn't stand for this."
The rally is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. on the Kanawha Boulevard side of the Capitol, after the Missouri church group is scheduled to demonstrate there and at a time that group is expected to be elsewhere.
That's part of the strategy, Weinstein said, to encourage people stay away from the hate group. "Don't go to one of the sites to counter-protest," she said.
"As another part of our strategy, this loose collection of organizations underwrote a full-page insert in the newspaper. You can hang it in your window."
One side of the insert, in today's editions of The Charleston Gazette and Daily Mail, is a poster of a giant pink heart with the legend "West Virginia ... a community of LOVE." On the back is a list of rally sponsors.
Those sponsors include groups that don't often work together, Weinstein said -- "the state Chamber of Commerce, the University of Charleston, the religious community, various nonprofit organizations, veterans' groups.
"So out of something ugly, something very beautiful is happening. The fabric of our community is being woven more tightly together."
Reach Jim Balow at ba...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.