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Bill Would Ban Westboro Picketers at Christina Green's Tucson Funeral

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Arizona lawmakers on Tuesday passed an emergency bill that would block members of a Kansas church from protesting at the funeral of the 9-year-old girl who was killed Saturday in a shooting rampage at a Tucson shopping center.

The bill went to the desk of Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed it into law Wednesday, making it effective immediately, the Tucson Citizen and the Washington Post reported.

The proposed law would prohibit protests at or near funeral sites.

On Monday, members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church said they plan to protest outside the funeral of Christina Taylor Green, one of six people killed in the shootings that wounded another 14 people, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

Westboro Baptist, a small church in Topeka, pickets at funerals of military veterans and people who have died of AIDS because its members say their deaths are God's punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality. Salon reported that a flier posted by the church on its website regarding the Tucson protest declared "God hates Catholics" -- the little girl's family is Catholic -- and "God Hates Fags." The church website also features a video with founder/pastor Fred Phelps thanking God for the deadly shootings.
Numerous states have passed laws restricting protests at funerals after members of the Westboro church began demonstrating at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Arizona legislation is modeled on an Ohio law that was upheld by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Phoenix Democrat.

"This is just horrific that ... people have to deal with this. We shouldn't have to do this in time of great pain for our state," Sinema told the Post.

Under the bill, picketing or protesting within 300 feet of a funeral service is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.

Shirley Phelps-Roper of the Westboro church said church members will get around the ban by protesting at intersections that are farther than 300 feet from the services.

But some in area are planning a counter-action to protect the grieving family.

Christin Gilmer of Tucson told CNN her hometown is a "loving, peaceful community" and the prospect of a protest by the small Kansas church was a "nightmare." In response, Gilmer said she is planning an "angel action" -- a group of volunteers wearing 8-by-10-foot angel wings to visually shield mourners from the demonstrators, who typically number no more than a dozen but hold aloft offensive signs.

"We want to surround them in a nonviolent way, to say that our community is united," she said. "We're a peaceful haven."

Forty-two people have signed up to volunteer, she said.
Filed Under: Arizona Shooting
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It is unbelievable that members of a Church anywhere, let alone WBC in Kansas, go to Arizona to demonstrate at a little girl's funeral. This little girl had nothing to do with the deranged shooter who is supposedly an anti gay rights among other issues.
Whoever said that the Congregation of WBC were Democrats is unfounded. What proof do you have of that statement?
A little decorum here please. Let this child RIP. She was a victum who was in the wrong place at the right time.
Pray for this child & her family & all others who were killed & injured & to the recovery of those who were injured & especially MS Giffords. What a remarkable lady.
Betty - Orlando FL

January 21 2011 at 6:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To allow this small "church" to have a voice in this funeral is to make a mockery of our country and our morals.
This killing was by a deranged young man whose "condition," while recognized was never taken seriously by the scores of individuals who thought it "politically incorrect" to bring it to the attention of those who might have helped him by intervening before his illness reached this climax. An yet we have a group of "citizens" who are allowed to spew hate towards those that don't agree with them, thereby giving them a platform for their views.
My politics are non-partisan and I abhor all the rhetoric that passes for "acceptable dialogue." I am the first to beg for eliminating this bipartisanship hate mongering, but this young man was less motivated by politics than by his own demons which were allowed to foment into demonizing our government. Had those around him been less inclined to believe the rants as a political "right" then he may have received the help he so desperately needed.

A small "faction" was able to remove GOD from our schools and public buildings because the 86% of the rest of the US population said it was their right to not be "offended by our prayers." Others are testing for further abrogation of our citizen "rights." When we back away for "political correctness" we are GIVING AWAY our rights.

It grieves me that "Angels" are needed to give this young girl her proper funeral, but hopefully Angels will continue to protect us from similar hate.

January 15 2011 at 12:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

To all of you who prayed to keep those WBC away from Arizona, to all the legislators who voted them away, to all the Guardian Angels who were going to stop them, to all the people who were going to form a chain, thank you, from Phoenix...and thank you God. Please make them stop using the name Baptist, because they are not, in any way, Baptists. If they were, they would listen to Jesus who said "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? "

January 14 2011 at 9:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

These people at the Westboro Church are nothing more than hate mongers. They follow and practice a cult of hate that makes me sick. But what disturbs me is that they have a right to free speach as misdirected as it may be. I am amazed that the liberal left (aclu) is allowing the Arizona legislature to abridge a constitutional right that they hold so dear. I want to be crystal clear here, I do not support the westboro hate cult. I support the Constitution and all that it protects. There are alot of people that have sacrificed everything they had so Americans of all beliefs, good and bad could be free in this country.

January 13 2011 at 7:02 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

That so called church is a bunch of classless wackos. In my state there are tough laws regarding funeral processions. It is against the law to break through a procession while it is traveling to the cemetery. I would think a national law should go into effect making it highly punishable to interfere in any way with a funeral.

January 12 2011 at 9:55 AM Report abuse +15 rate up rate down Reply

well i tink its pretty bad when a family of 9 yr old is in griefing and that another group is planning a protest iam a minsinary ba. but we dont belive in this kind of action we belive in coming to gether to support familys of misfortue this is in no means what god wants for chirstans to protest you shouldnt down anyone wwhos trying to right liveing right no matter what relgion we are trying to get to haven so how wbs do what ther doing its toltaly wrong ther day is comeimg to stand before god and be judge same on the

January 12 2011 at 9:31 AM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

well i tink its pretty bad when a family of 9 yr old is in griefing and that another group is planning a protest iam a minsinary ba. but we dont belive in this kind of action we belive in coming to gether to support familys of misfortue this is in no means what god wants for chirstans to protest you shouldnt down anyone wwhos trying to right liveing right no matter what relgion we are trying to get to haven so how wbs do what ther doing its toltaly wrong ther day is comeimg to stand before god and be judge same on the

January 12 2011 at 9:31 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Okay I'm all for this legislation. It was passed unanimously by all legislators, no matter the party. Now if only the state can work together to get better things done for the state as a whole. As for @ vminch007, the only think Sheriff Dupnik said was that the partisan language needed to be toned down. Thanks to radio, some cable news states and, most importantly, the internet, hate, fear, lies and bigotry have been spread to an alarming rate. HE DID NOT MENTION ANY NAMES. So why do you think HE is "spewing hateful lies?" He didn't LIE about anything!

January 11 2011 at 11:09 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Margaret's comment

Numerous suggestions were made that the heated, gun oriented rhetoric from the likes of Palin, Hannity, Limbaugh and O'reailly COULD have influenced the killer. It is simply idiotic to deny that possibility. What the sheriff said needed saying and he did not lie in any way. Why does the right always react so hysterically to any criticism?

January 18 2011 at 11:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Good, this is what legislators are for. Make your own laws and the feds don't have to. Another good one for AZ. Now they know how to be autonomous from the federal government.

January 11 2011 at 10:26 PM Report abuse +14 rate up rate down Reply

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