JR and Robin Knight, who caused the Kansas town of Meade to come undone by the simple act of hanging a rainbow flag outside their Lakeway Hotel, were targeted by Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church over the weekend. Approximately 30 members of the Phelps clan showed up with their signs but were outnumbered by gay activists and supporters who had come to counter Phelps’ hateful messages.
Meade Police Chief Loren Borger was joined by 16 Kansas State Troopers and told the Wichita Eagle he couldn’t remember a time when as many members of law enforcement had visited the small Kansas town that has made international headlines since the Knights raised the rainbow flag over the front door of their hotel.
Following our post about the Knights one month ago today, a debate joined by Meade town members (often anonymously) and the Knights themselves in the comment section of the post began to reveal the emotions and politics as a small town unraveled.
Since the original story broke, the Knights have been harassed by health inspectors, according to an email to supporters from JR Knight:
“On Wednesday, August 9, 2006 at about 5:20pm as we were seating our first customers we were visited by Kansas State Health Inspectors following up a complaint that our dog Kuma was hanging out in our restaurant kitchen. This is the sixth false compliant since we opened and the second involving Kuma. After a two hour inspection, during our busiest night in weeks, the inspectors only found two minor violations.”
On August 11, a brick was thrown through the window of the hotel, according to Knight, who supplied photos of the brick and the damage:
Said Knight: “This incident has, as you can imagine, has caused Robin a great amount of stress, as well as relief that our 12 year old son is safe, far from this nonsense. I, being a hot blooded Italian, felt the anger building inside and remembering previous bouts of chest pain started belly laughing in front of the Officer both to relieve stress but more importantly to let the people here know, through the Officer, that they will not intimidate me. We cleaned up the mess, put up a board and even before I finished securing the board re-hung the flag.”
Vandals who cut down the hotel’s original rainbow flag have since apologized, and the hotel now has a new rainbow and American flag, Knight says, “courtesy of our new LGBT friends and supporters.”
Rainbow Flag Brings out Bigots in Kansas [tr]