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Archive for Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Gift of rainbow flag draws anti-gay protesters to hotel

August 29, 2006

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J.R. Knight plays music, including "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," from the balcony of the Lakeway Hotel in Meade on Sunday as members of the Topeka-based anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church picket across the street. The church group was in town because the hotel has been flying a rainbow flag, a gift from the 12-year-old son of the owners.

J.R. Knight plays music, including "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," from the balcony of the Lakeway Hotel in Meade on Sunday as members of the Topeka-based anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church picket across the street. The church group was in town because the hotel has been flying a rainbow flag, a gift from the 12-year-old son of the owners.

— A 12-year-old's gift to his parents - a brightly colored flag that he said reminded him of Kansas and the Wizard of Oz - has spawned one of the biggest controversies to hit this town of 1,600 people in a long time.

On Sunday, Police Chief Loren Borger, his colleagues and 16 troopers from the Kansas Highway Patrol kept an eye on protests over the rainbow-colored nylon banner that J.R. and Robin Knight decided to fly on the flagpole in front of their business, the Lakeway Hotel.

Townspeople gathered on downtown corners with their video cameras Sunday morning to watch as members of a Topeka-based church - whose protests of funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq spawned restrictive legislation in a number of states - picketed the hotel because of the flag and five local churches for not doing enough to keep it from flying in their town.

While the flag reminded the Knights' young son of Dorothy and Toto, it's also recognized as a symbol of gay pride. Robin Knight said she and her husband didn't put the flag up to make a political statement, but rather because "it has pretty colors, it's bright, it's summery."

Soon after the flag went up, the local newspaper ran a picture of the banner on its front page, noting its significance in the gay community. Afterward, someone threw two bricks at the bed and breakfast, one of which broke through a window and destroyed two neon signs.

When someone cut the flag down, the Knights ordered two more and said they'll buy even more if they have to.

Dennis Russell, of Altoona, yells toward picketers from the Westboro Baptist Church as he stands outside the Lakeway Hotel Sunday in Meade.

Dennis Russell, of Altoona, yells toward picketers from the Westboro Baptist Church as he stands outside the Lakeway Hotel Sunday in Meade.

On Sunday, as the daughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps protested with 10 of her 11 children, three brothers and two sisters, onlookers shook their heads at the spectacle.

"It's just not right," said Suzan Seybert, a 30-year resident of the southwest Kansas community, as she watched Shirley Phelps-Roper's children chanting about homosexuals burning in hell. "I think it's despicable to start to teach your children at such a young age the word 'hate'. It's just the worst thing you can do."

Mike Thompson, who teaches a class at Colby Community College on the sociology of discrimination, brought some of his students to see the protests. Among them was Kati Near, who grew up in Meade.

"I think a lot of people think we're all just a bunch of bigots," she said, adding that she was embarrassed by what was going on in her hometown.

From the balcony off the honeymoon suite of his bed and breakfast, J.R. Knight blared music such as Starship's "Nothing's Going to Stop Us Now." Nearby, in the Lakeway's parking lot, a car's bumper sticker read, "Kansas: As bigoted as you think," which is a play on the state's "As big as you think" motto.

Robin Knight said earlier this month that the anger spawned by the colorful flag has strengthened the family's resolve to keep the banner flying, noting that caving in to the pressure would send the wrong message to her son.

"It's our business," she said. "It shouldn't be dictated by other people."

Comments

Maddysmom 7 years, 7 months ago

J.R. and Robin are good people, and whatever happens, happens for a reason. My thoughts are always with them, and i will always remember the summer of 2006 and will always stay true to the real issues whenever i hear anyone discussing what happened.

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pelliott 7 years, 7 months ago

Gee, Phelps is never embarassed or logical, just mean and crazy. As for the cafe business. It's best not to donate money into a business but to use a sharpened pencil and find out if it is a go on its trade. Investing in changes and advertising, giving a cafe time to establish, you can use money there but to take a cafe that has penciled out and keep it floating by hope is too too sad.

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prospector 7 years, 7 months ago

Maddysmom

When I read smalltowngirl and wheatfarmer, it sounds like you still have your share of trolls under the bridges.

Your return was good and all I could think was, OOOHHHH Snap, you go girl!

Take care

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i_have_only_valid_opinions 7 years, 7 months ago

Calm, clear skies and 80 degrees right now. We had over 5" of rain last weekend.

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Maddysmom 7 years, 7 months ago

nope, pretty much the same around here. Boring and a little hot. How's the weather in Lawrence. dang i miss that place.

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i_have_only_valid_opinions 7 years, 7 months ago

No, it's really none of my business what he does with his money. I don't want to pry to that point. I was just surprised to read that he was donating the money because I thought they were hurting for business.

So, is there any new news on the topic other than the Phelps nut going to Meade?

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Maddysmom 7 years, 7 months ago

You may call them if you'd like. They can answer your questions. I'm not at liberty to say anything more.

Lakeway Hotel: (620)873-2700 Ask for JR or Robin. Nice people.

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i_have_only_valid_opinions 7 years, 7 months ago

I guess I don't understand from a business standpoint why he would donate the money from his hotel to the Coalition if his restuarant was losing money. That's not a smart business decision. Sounds like he does need the money.

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Maddysmom 7 years, 7 months ago

The resturant? True, that's true. But i'm sure he has other plans.

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i_have_only_valid_opinions 7 years, 7 months ago

I thought I read an article where JR said that he couldn't afford to stay open if business didn't improve?

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Maddysmom 7 years, 7 months ago

BTW- The money that he's getting for his hotel? He gives it back to the Kansas Equality Coalition. He doesn't need the money.

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Maddysmom 7 years, 7 months ago

Ummm, actually i don't work for the Lakeway, why don't you get your facts straight. Also, my husband was trying to break the mood. Sorry if you think he's obnoxious but a bunch of the people in your town are obnoxious and sad. I know there is more to the story. For me, it's more of an equality issue anyway. Those people who talked openly didn't do it on t.v. They did it to people around town and you know how things go around here. Wanna talk crap? You know where to find me.

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wheatfarmer 7 years, 7 months ago

I agree that there are two sides to every story. JR Knight is pulling the wool over everyone's eyes and trying to get everyone to send him money. He changes his story every time the media talks to him. He's not a nice person, and the citizens of Meade will all cheer when he moves back to California

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smalltowngirl 7 years, 7 months ago

maddysmom is a tad bit biased. Her best friend is the daughter of one of the councilmen that likes to stir the pot, even when it's empty. Her husband stood directly across hwy 54 from crazy phelps with a mega phone, which by the way was kinda comical if not obnoxious. Maddysmom works part time for the hotel. The boys who stole the flag where brothers, 7th grade and a sophomore. They apologized to the knights and wrote a public letter of apology to the citizens of meade. Her step-grandpa in-law is also one of the asses on the council, good buds with the best friends dad, and someone on the city council likes to let mr. Knight in on what their going to do next on the council ie..fire people to get rid of the whole "good ole boys network". Before people judge other people they should investigate the whole story. This isn't about the flag, it's about our city government, and other things that just don't add up. I didn't see anyone talking trash openly on the news except Mr. Knight. People didn't show up in "support" of the lakeway. They showed up to show a united front against phelps and his crazy crew. I knew in less than a week who cut down the flag, but its a strange thing about the bricks, nobody has bragged a bit. Mysterious don't ya think???? For the real story someone needs to come out and investigate the WHOLE story. Not just the Knights side. Now that would make an interesting story.

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Maddysmom 7 years, 7 months ago

Well, i wasn't there on the protest day. My best friend was and i can answer you back in a little bit about the turnout. The boy that cut down the flag was about 16-18. He was a high schooler. They have not found out who threw the brick, but as soon as i know i can tell you. There were people at each of the five main churches. Then, they met at the Lakeway at eleven and protested. I know that there were people who showed up only for the cameras. These people have talked trash on tke Lakeway (openly) and then happend to show up on the big day in "Support". Yeah, right.

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prospector 7 years, 7 months ago

Maddysmom

I was wondering, how old were the boy that stole the original flag and have they tracked down the brick thrower?

How many of Phred's people demonstrated? The article says 10 or 11 family members. How many of the anti-Phred folks were there?

Did the locals stay away or come out and watch?

Thanks in advance.

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billyflay 7 years, 7 months ago

i think all motels that cater to homo's should indicate so with the flag of the fag,

this is a brilliant idea! this will allow normal folk to make an educated decision on future motel patronage,

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moxxie_mama 7 years, 7 months ago

If you think furniture has to match, you apparently haven't seen the REALLY rich homes that are full of heirloom pieces, historical pieces, and none of it matches at all. It's in fashion to have mismatched furniture, destressed looking old furniture. Most fashionable people are modeling their homes trying to get the same look.

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moderator 7 years, 7 months ago

The Phelps family = the new KKK

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offtotheright 7 years, 7 months ago

Someone needs to throw a brick at the Phelp's head!

Seriously, these people are the most ignorant of all kind. I'm surprised some sniper hasn't taken them all out!

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Linda Endicott 7 years, 7 months ago

not_dolph...would I stay there?

Sure. Why not? Looks clean and comfortable.

You don't like mismatched furniture? You mean there are people who have furniture that actually matches?? Gee...who would have thunk it...

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not_dolph 7 years, 7 months ago

Posted by mom_of_three (anonymous) on August 29, 2006 at 1:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Cottonwood falls is bigger than meade.

Population in Cottonwood Falls has a population of 966 - almost half of that of Meade (at least what was published in the story). Be careful of your assertions.

http://www.city-data.com/city/Cottonwood-Falls-Kansas.html


Posted by mom_of_three (anonymous) on August 29, 2006 at 1:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And Flint Oak Ranch isn't just a hotel, it is a shooting range which charges annual membership fees in the thousands of dollars. It looks like a resort in the middle of no where. You can't use that comparison, either. Two different animals.

Fall River has a population of 156.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=Fall+River%2C+KS+Population&btnG=Search

Flint Oak, while a shooting club, is open to the public and promotes itself to families. All are comparable to your example...Meade is in the middle of nowhere - Flint Oak is in the middle of nowhere. So really they aren't different animals.

Wilson has a population of 799.

http://www.city-data.com/city/Wilson-Kansas.html

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mom_of_three 7 years, 7 months ago

And I would expect the MIdland hotel in Wilson, Kansas to look like it does since it is on the National Register for Historic places. The rooms are nice, since they were carefully restored to their original state when the hotel was built.
The Lakeway doesn't claim to be luxurious either, just warm, charming, and offering personal attention.

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Maddysmom 7 years, 7 months ago

I stayed in the Honeymoon/Sweetheart suite. It was nice and a great night away. BTW- it has gotten national news. MTV is going to run a story on it.

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mom_of_three 7 years, 7 months ago

The hotel in Meade reminds me of the places we saw and stayed at in South Dakota. Very homey and relaxing.

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mom_of_three 7 years, 7 months ago

And Flint Oak Ranch isn't just a hotel, it is a shooting range which charges annual membership fees in the thousands of dollars. It looks like a resort in the middle of no where. You can't use that comparison, either. Two different animals.

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mom_of_three 7 years, 7 months ago

Cottonwood falls is bigger than meade.

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not_dolph 7 years, 7 months ago

mom - indeed I have stayed at small town hotels...try The Grand Central Hotel in Cottonwood Falls, or the Flint Oak Ranch in Fall River, or even the Midland Hotel in Wilson. Both of those towns are much smaller than Meade, but have high end accommodations. If I want to stay in a room with mismatched furniture, I will spend the night with mom and dad back home. It is good, however, that someone has taken an interest in trying to maintain a lodging property there, however.

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moxxie_mama 7 years, 7 months ago

the protest just happened this past weekend I believe, so yes, it's still news. I'd stay there, just for support.

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mom_of_three 7 years, 7 months ago

Evidently, you have never traveled through a small town or stayed at a privately owned hotel.
No, the King Suite isn't what you would picture, but the pictures of the other rooms are very charming and quaint. The prices appear reasonable and the rooms are clean.
Although I may not stay in the King Suite, I would probably check out the hotel.

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billyflay 7 years, 7 months ago

for liberals, the only flag that deserves to be dissed is the stars and strips,

mexican flags and homo flags are off limits,

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Sasquatch34 7 years, 7 months ago

Seriously though, how much can publicity really help? Its freakin Meade, KS! Is there even more than 1 motel there?

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gr 7 years, 7 months ago

And, publicity is good for the hotel's business.

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mom_of_three 7 years, 7 months ago

But now it is getting national exposure. And since the Phelps' aren't picketing military funerals (thank goodness), they need something else to keep their name in the limelight.

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Ragingbear 7 years, 7 months ago

In other news, this incident is nearly a month old.

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