Here they go again. Members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church plan to protest outside the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, one of six people killed Saturday in the Tucson, Ariz., shootings.
But some in area are planning a counter-action to protect the grieving family from the unwelcome picketers and their slurs.
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.
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.
In Tucson, they're understandably upset about that. Some 4,500 have joined a "Show Support" Facebook page started by 20-year-old Chelsea Cohen, a University of Arizona senior. Cohen says she isn't organizing a counter-protest but rather a demonstration of silent support. "We plan on being completely silent, and we're asking people not to bring signs or make comments about the Westboro Baptist Church," she said.