‘Angels' to counter hate church funeral protest of 9-year-old killed in AZ shooting

Tue. January 11, 2011 4:35 AM by GoPride.com News Staff

Tucson, AZ - Within hours of the tragic shootings in Tucson, the controversial Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) announced they would picket the funerals of those killed, including the funeral of a 9-year-old girl.

WBC issued a statement with the headline, "Thank God for the shooter - 6 dead! WBC will picket their funerals!"

"God sent the shooter!," the statement continued. "Your fag-loving Congresswoman fights for her life."

But as plans of the Topeka-based church became known through media reports, including a coverage on the GoPride.com Network, Tucson residents said not in our town.

"For something like this to happen in Tucson was a really big shock to us all," Tucson resident Christin Gilmer told CNN. "Our nightmare happened when we saw Westboro Baptist Church was going to picket the funerals."

Residents are now planning an "angel action" where counter-protestors will wear 8-by-10 foot angel wings to shield mourners from the WBC church members – who carry signs with hateful and irreverent messages.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was targeted and shot Saturday morning at a supermarket in Tucson. Six other people died, including 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, Arizona Federal Court Judge John Roll and an aide to the congresswoman, Gabe Zimmerman.

According to CNN, the "angel action" was created by Coloradan Romaine Patterson, who was shocked to find WBC and its signs that read "No Fags in Heaven" and "God Hates Fags" outside the 1999 funeral of Matthew Shepherd.

Westboro Baptist Church, is not affiliated with a larger denomination and is made up mostly of the 71-year-old Phelps' extended family. WBC is monitored by the Anti-Defamation League and is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"You don't mess with Tucson," said 26-year-old Gilmer.