"When this is what you do as your hobby, as your leisure time, this is what you spend your money on," said Paulette Phelps, daughter-in-law of Fred Phelps, pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church. "This is our vacation. This is our fun time."
In spite of their inflammatory signs, including one that read, "God sent the shooter," their protest took place almost without incident.
The only exception was when a mourner shouted at the protesters from behind a police barricade before being led away by police.
The presence of several dozen police officers from departments throughout the county seemed to effectively prevent any confrontations between the Westboro Baptist Church and mourners.
A row of St. Charles snowplows formed a physical and highly visible barrier between the park where the protesters were assembled and the east entrance of the church.
About 40 officers from the Kane County Mobile Task Force, in riot gear, stood guard around the park to protect the mourners from the protesters.
"They have the ability to express their freedom of speech," St. Charles Police Chief James Lamkin said. "We wanted to make sure there was nothing that would disrespect the funeral."
About 15 students from around the suburbs were on hand to express their disgust for the protesters' message.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Looks like the groups that utilized Facebook and other social networking sites were able to band together with local law enforcement to avoid any major confrontation at one of the NIU victim's funerals: