By Lily Stuart
During the first few weeks of April, Case Western Reserve University students who walked across campus were greeted by who they later deemed the “Euclid Preacher.” Armed with a sign that proclaims that passersby are “Liars,” “Thieves,” or “Immodest Women,” among other more profane and often anti-LGBTQ+ insults, the street preacher became notorious for telling students that their “judgment day is coming” through a microphone attached to a speaker.
Perturbed by this display and tired of watching their peers be insulted, a group of students decided to stage a peaceful counter-protest on the opposite corner of the street. They noticed that their peers tended to argue with the preacher, rather than engage in any positive discourse. What began as a group of four friends making signs developed into a 70-person team. One of the main organizers, Isaac, had goals to “create a counter-message of inclusivity, be welcoming, and tell people that they’re not alone.” Organizing themselves through Discord, an online messaging platform, the group orchestrated ways to spread their message safely and directly. On average, there were about 20 students on the corner at a time, many of whom took “shifts” that coordinated with their class schedule. Another main coordinator, Malcolm Miller, commented on how “self-sustaining” the protest was; students shuffled in and out efficiently, regardless of whether or not the original organizers were there, and maintained the positive message with few hiccups.
The demonstration instantly gained attention. People in cars beeped and waved to show their support and those walking past gave hugs and cheered. Some walkers even stopped just to chat, encourage the crowd, or give the students snacks and bottles of water. The group didn’t consist solely of CWRU students; it also included students from the Cleveland Institute of Art.
As of April 19th when writing this article, the street preachers are still present on CWRU’s campus. Nonetheless, after having what they noted as “very productive conversations,” Issac and Malcolm plan to continue organizing after the “Euclid Preacher’s” departure, albeit on a smaller scale. They hope to continue spreading messages of positivity, love, and inclusivity.
*Quotes are sourced from a personal interview with Malcolm and Issac and may have been edited for continuity*