Mourners pay tribute to Gabrielle Giffords, Christina Taylor Green and the other victims of the Tucson shootings. Photograph: Matt York/AP
Tucson residents and politicians are seeking to prevent members of a church notorious for its anti-gay and anti-Catholic views from disrupting Thursday’s funeral of a nine year-old victim of the shooting.
The Westboro Baptist church in Kansas praised Jared Lee Loughner for killing six people, including young Christina Taylor Green, right, and wounding 14 others. The church founder, Fred Phelps, posted a video in which he said: “Thank God for the violent shooter, one of your soldier heroes in Tucson. However many are dead, Westboro Baptist church will picket their funerals. We will remind the living you can still repent and obey.”
The church has gained notoriety for picketing funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and people who have died of Aids, all of which it says are a punishment for society’s tolerance of homosexuality.
The church also said of the Tucson shootings: “God hates Catholics.” Green’s family is Catholic.
But Arizona politicians are fast tracking legislation to keep church members 300 feet from the funerals while Tucson residents are planning ways to limit the protest.
The legislation was proposed by a state senator, Kyrsten Sinema, after she read about the Westboro chuch’s plans.
“It is the most disgusting thing I ever read in my entire life. I literally threw up after I read it … I’m like, ‘I’m gonna fix this’,” she told Fox News.
Tucson residents also plan to try and keep members of the Westboro church at bay.
Christin Gilmer has gathered more than 40 volunteers to wear 10 foot high angel wings and stand between the church members and the funeral.
A group of bikers says it will surround the church members.
The US supreme court last year upheld the right of members of Westboro church to protest at funerals. The case was brought by the father of a soldier killed in Iraq whose burial was disrupted.