Two measures sponsored by New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr
(I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) would further protect funeral services from
disruptive demonstrators. The legislation, which passed the Assembly,
would establish a 300-foot buffer zone around funeral services beyond
which demonstrators couldn't disturb mourners and empower local
governments to require permits for any demonstrations taking place
within 1,000 feet of the services.
"Recently, several radical groups have grabbed national attention
and risen to infamy for heartlessly protesting military funerals,"
Assemblyman Thiele said. "While these protesters have the right to free
speech, they most certainly do not have the right to intimidate and
threaten the well-being of funeral attendees, including the family
members of the deceased. These bills would build on current law and give
grieving families and friends a necessary buffer from those who would
The first of the Assembly's bills would expand upon a 2008 law
prohibiting purposeful disturbances within a 100-foot radius of
religious services, funerals, burials and memorial services. Under the
new legislation, that area would be increased to 300 feet, and violators
would be guilty of disruption or disturbance of a religious service,
funeral, burial or memorial service, a class A misdemeanor.
The second measure would authorize communities to require
demonstrators to obtain permits from the locality for any demonstrations
organized within 1,000 feet of a wake, funeral, burial or memorial
service. It would also direct the state to devise a similar permitting
system for demonstrations held on state property. Protesters who violate
a permit requirement would face civil penalties, the terms of which
would be left up to the individual communities. Violators on state
property would face civil fines of up to $500 upon a first violation, up
to $1,000 for a second violation and up to $2,000 for a third
"There's a time and place to express ideological differences, and
funeral services are not it," Thiele said. "This legislation would send
an unmistakable message to disrespectful demonstrators: New York will
not tolerate individuals or groups who use the most somber of moments to
further their agendas - political, religious or otherwise."
Help us organize support for any law, amendment, or court decision that makes it illegal to protest at funerals.
One cult in particular has been protesting numerous funerals, including the funerals of fallen soldiers, for the past 20 years. This cult is called the Westboro Baptist Church.
Recently, attention has been magnified on this issue due to a certain event. The WBC, doing what they usually do, was picketing at Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder's funeral, holding signs saying despicable things, like Thank God for Dead Soldiers. LCpl. Snyder's family and friends, already grieving from the loss of someone close to them, were forced to listen to protesters screaming profanities as they tried to conduct a wake.
Lance Cpl. Snyder's father, Al Snyder, proceeded to sue the WBC for emotional distress. At first, Snyder won $5,000,000 when a Jury declared he was justified in his suit, but the WBC appealed.
The WBC won its appeal, and the court ordered Al Snyder to pay $16,000 in legal fees to the cult which dishonored the memory of his fallen son.
Any true American would realize that this is a complete outrage. All the members of this group stand together in our belief that new laws should be provided federally prohibiting any group from protesting at a funeral.
The case is pending an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the WBC on the grounds of protected First Amendment speech, we will press for a 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Depending on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in this upcoming case, expect a demonstration in a City near you.
The day for the demonstration will be July 4th, 2011 so lets get this going.