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Funeral protest: Arizona rallies to foil Westboro Baptist Church

Funeral protest plans by Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, have been met with defiance in Arizona. Tuscon residents say they'll block the protesters from getting to the mourners of Saturday's mass shooting. The state legislature has also passed a law to help.

Dozens gather at a makeshift memorial Monday in Tucson, Ariz., for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is still in critical condition at the hospital, and other victims who were shot on Saturday. The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, plans a funeral protest for the six people who died, angering Arizonans.

Ross D. Franklin/AP

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Plans by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, to picket the funerals of Saturday's shooting victims are being met by a concerted effort by citizens and lawmakers to keep protesters at bay.

State lawmakers Tuesday passed legislation that makes protests illegal within 300 feet of any home, house of worship, cemetery, or funeral home just before, during, or after a ceremony or burial.

Tucson residents also sprang into action when news of the planned protests spread. Many intend to meet the picketers with human barricades and some say they will wear oversize “angel wings” to shield mourners from seeing the protesters along the funeral routes.

Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies are preparing to implement extra safety measures at the various funeral sites in the next few days to ensure that the protests and counterprotests don't get out of hand.

“We’re going to take every precaution we can to make sure there is no violence,” says Deputy Renee Carlson of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. “We’re going to make sure that everybody is safe at these events.”


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