Arizona Legislature Blocks Westboro Baptist Church Picket from Tucson Shooting Funerals

The Arizona legislature has passed emergency legislation ensuring a 300-ft distance between the Westboro Baptist Church and funerals of Tucson shooting victims this weekend, ABC15 reports:

Phelps Arizona State Representative Kyrsten Sinema said when she heard of the plans, she got downright angry and decided to take action. 

Sinema sponsored Senate Bill 1101 and got some help from fellow legislators. 

"We patterned legislation after Ohio's law which is constitutional, it’s been upheld in court, and I got permission from the speaker and the senate president to wave (sic) the rules," Sinema said.

That bill was passed just before 3 p.m. Tuesday, and is expected to be signed by Governor Brewer, tonight.

"The bill requires them to be at least 300 feet away from the funeral from an hour before the funeral starts to an hour after it ends and that way people can grieve and love in peace," Sinema said.

The legislation is said to be similar to what 40 other states have currently adopted. 

Shortly after the shooting, the hateful church announced plans to picket the funerals, accompanied by a video from WBC Fred Phelps. The plans inspired a counter protest to raise funds for the Anti-Violence Project of Southern Arizona.


  1. Paul R says

    Should be a 300-mile radius. Jackasses. Wonder if they’d be doing it if a Republican had been shot.

    Wait, what am I thinking? Of course they would. Their hatred, cruelty, and immaturity know no bounds.

  2. Alan says

    This is unequal application of the legal process. Fred Phelps has been protesting at gay funerals and military funerals for years. Did the Arizona legislature ever in the past do anything to protect the funerals of “average citizens”?

  3. Gregoire says

    I’m actually on the Phelps side, at least legally. They should be allowed and WE should be allowed to counter protest and surround and suffocate their hate speech. Their foolishness had been tolerated in hundred of prior protests. This is a heinous show on their part, but so have dozens of others of their horrible graveyard demonstrations. They need to be humiliated and abused.

  4. crispy says

    @Alan: I don’t believe the Phelps crazies have every protested in Arizona. So your unequal application of state legal process is pretty much bullshit.

    And for the record, Krysten Sinema is openly bisexual and perhaps the most prominent state legislator fighting for pro-gay rights.

  5. anon says

    SCOTUS will rule on this issue later in the year, so for the purposes of these funerals the law will work.

    However, comments I’ve read on the web indicate that people think the congresswoman died, but she is still alive. There is some sort of cognitive dissonance going on.

  6. Paul R says

    @Tom: at least it’s unlikely to be struck down by this weekend.

    @Alan: or it could be a new application of the legal process. After all, the father of one soldier whose funeral they picketed initially won a huge award against them. Free speech and privacy issues are obviously inherently difficult to resolve, so if I were the families I’d have private memorials at funeral homes, then cremate the bodies and do with the ashes as they wish. Problem solved. And I rather doubt the AZ police will provide the Phelps with much protection.

    I wonder how long the Phelps clan will continue with these abominable actions once Fred dies? I know the family is packed with lunatics, but he seems to direct a lot of their insanity. I still don’t understand how they finance their activities. Even though many family members are lawyers, they have to spend of lot of time defending themselves instead of earning livings.

    Does anyone know if this “church” is tax-exempt?

  7. Bryan says

    So much for freedom of assembly, freedom of expression… So much for freedom. But so what? The Republic died before I was born.

    “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little
    temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

    — Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), reply of the Pennsylvania
    Assembly to the Governor, November 11, 1755

  8. TANK says

    That shite’s easy to say when it’s not your loved one on the slab. So with that in mind, obligatory founding father quote, hide behind some self serving interpretation of the first amendment, and end with, “that’s just unamerican!” That’s just unamerican! Snort! I know if it were someone I cared about being buried, I’d want to affirm our loud noisy democracy by participating in a counter protest against deranged fanatics rather than…ya know…reflect on fond memories of the fallen. I’m sure I’m not alone.

  9. Chris says

    @CB When bullies get billed, they stop bullying. It is causing people to realize what jackasses they’ve become when they are forced to relate to the Phelp’s cult.

    It’s a hard way of learning things, but it does force people to relate to our struggles and forces them to evaluate themselves against the likes of Phelps.

  10. Dali says

    I believe a GOOD WAY to PAY RESPECT to the victims of this tragedy and their family is to NOT COMMENT ON THAT “CHURCH”.

    Let’s not give IT more attention than it deserves!

    @Ratbastard : Calm down, dude!

  11. LiamB says

    No one’s freedom has been taken away, these morons can still protest. The law just prevents them from harassing the grieving family and inflicting more emotional harm.

    As for the law’s constitutionality, the representative stated in the article it was based on an Ohio law that was already found to be constitutional, so I doubt it’s going to be struck down.

    Again, no-one’s right to assemble has been taken away. This is nothing more than a restraining order.

  12. Austin says

    Have joy in the knowledge,
    There are shadows waiting for phelps and his cult.
    I assure you, they are not the forgiving kind.
    One day they like us all, will die, and to the shadows they will go.

    They know this, for what they have done, they are cursed,they have been for years.

  13. wimsy says

    The news media is to blame for making Fred & Family “news” — a reaction he relies upon in conducting his outrageous antics to get publicity for his tiny cult. Fred came to Provincetown a couple of years ago (“God Hates Fags!”), and everybody ignored him. Soon, he and his inbreds quietly slithered away. Oh – and God made it rain hard that day, so Fred got soaking wet. Hardy-ha-ha.

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