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Police to Provide Security at Westboro Baptist Church's Protest of Clark Military Funeral

Mayor Sal Bonaccorso acknowledges right to protest, says police will be on hand in case of emergency.

The Westboro Baptist Church protesters plan to be outside St. Agnes Church in Clark Monday, holding up signs at . The signs declare his death in Afghanistan as a sign of God's judgment on America.

In Sam Phelps-Roper's view, he and his fellow parishioners at Westboro are doing God's work.

The deaths of soldiers oversees, they believe, is because various states in the country have legalized homosexual marriage, he said.

Homosexuals, Phelps-Roper said, "are the lowest rung on the ladder of depravity. You set it up on a pedestal and call it holy. [Americans] fornicate with everything that moves, God hates those things. This nation is awash in idolatry in all its forms."

It doesn't seem readily apparent what that has to do with the death of Cpl. Reinhard. The 25-year-old Marine, a Colonia resident, was killed along with five other soldiers in a January 19 helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso said he spoke with Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac and both municipalities are coordinating their police efforts. 

"We will have the police at St. Agnes. The protesters will be 500 ft. away from the church. They won't even be visible," Bonaccorso said. "Three to five of them won't be a problem." 

McCormac could not be reached for comment.

"They have a right to express their speech, whether we agree with it or not. We will follow all the rules," Bonaccorso said. "But this is a hero who gave his life for his country. I don't need them upsetting anybody."

In Phelps-Roper's opinion, soldiers are dying because God wants it that way.

"This foolish nation thinks they can do a thing that is called an abomination. We can focus on chasing Arabs in caves, God sits in heaven and laughs, and sends children home in body bags," he said.

Phelps-Roper is the grandson of Westboro founder Fred Phelps. The church, which has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, has approximately 80 members and is based in Kansas.

They fly all over the country, Phelps-Roper said, to protest at the funerals of soldiers killed in war. 

But not all soldiers, according to Phelps-Roper.

"We get to as many as we can where there is a public spectacle. If it's a private funeral and they aren't having a public service, insisting that God is blessing America when clearly he is not, we don't go," he said.

On the township website, Woodbridge residents who wish to honor Cpl. Reinhard are urged to "line both sides of Inman Avenue" after the funeral mass at St. Agnes Church in Clark. Cpl. Reinhard will be buried at St. Gertrude's Cemetery in Colonia. 

But the township's gesture isn't what caught the Westboro Baptist Church's attention.

Phelps-Roper said the church is responding to information found at the Patriot Guard forum, a motorcycle club that attend funerals of soliders, firefighters, and police, but only after being invited by family members.

The Patriot Guard began in 2005, to provide a response to the activities of the Westboro group. They block the group from having to be seen by mourners at funerals, and they rev their motorcycles to drown out the Westboro protests. 

Whatever fallen hero the Patriot Guard wishes to honor is where the Westboro clan will be, Phelps-Roper said.

"We've been to hundreds of [funerals]. We aren't trying to get into anyone's face. We protest thousands of feet if not miles away. We leave when the funeral starts. We don't invade the funerals or cemeteries," he said, pointing out that his church's members consider themselves to be law-abiding citizens.

There was no mention of how far away the Westboro protesters will be placed from the church, which is the only place Phelps-Roper plans on picketing. 

The Patriot Guard may easily overwhelm the Westboro group, though. Phelps-Roper said that only "three to five" protesters from the church will show up to protest in Clark.

 

Information about the wake and funeral of Cpl. Kevin Reinhard can be found in his .

Sylvia January 28, 2012 at 01:34 AM
I detest those people, that is why my husband I are Patriot Guard Riders and we are both Veterans. I recently heard a saying "sometimes God let's you watch his revenge" - I sure hope we see his revenge soon, especially on the dark haired witch that now leads the group. They have done something good though - they brought many of us together to stand with the family and mourn with them for our Fallen Brothers and Sister.
ame January 28, 2012 at 02:40 AM
It is amazing that these idiots have the freedom to speak due to Cpl Reinhard, my husband and other military members. The audacity that they interpret the Bible and misconstrue it to adhere to the hate they spread. God is a loving God and hates noone especially our military he has just taken them to heaven to stand beside him as angels. How horrible it is that this family who has given the ultimate sacrifice is now subjected to hearing the evil these people speak. A funeral is their chance to lay Kevin to rest and honor his commitment to this country and the Marine Corps. Thank God there are people like the Patriot Guard Riders to protect our military members and our families from people who should no longer have the right to be called Americans. Absolutely despicable to say the least.
Don H. January 28, 2012 at 01:09 PM
The truely wonderfull thing about america is that, whatever your beliefs are, you have freedom of speech to express them. This Serviceman died while defending those rights. He probably had no political agenda, just the love for this country and a desire to serve it. This hero's funeral is no place for any kind of protest or statement. Honor our dead, honor his family, remember his sacrifice.
frank January 29, 2012 at 03:30 AM
I hope someone throws a brick at their heads
Jackie Bouchard Craig January 29, 2012 at 12:33 PM
You are so right. God loves everyone. I was taught in church God loves the sinner, but God hates sin. They take the Bible and twist it all up into what they want it to "mean"
April Garland January 29, 2012 at 03:59 PM
It's time to show WBC if they want to protest, they can also be billed by the city for extra police on duty, street cleanup, and anything else the city can tuck in there. How about a seriously hefty fee to protest funerals, say $50,000 a pop for the permit + any additional incurred fees. Let's start writing laws like that & let's see how much they can cough up with their daily rounds of stupidity!
Doug Miller January 29, 2012 at 06:57 PM
OK.....so by using westboro churchs' "same analogy"....If someone were to shoot the crazy pastor Phelps or someone else in their mis-guided congregation, then it must be Gods will !!!
Debbie January 30, 2012 at 12:47 AM
the sad thing is that this brave young man gave his life to protect the freedoms of these insensitive boobs! I hate when people hide behind their stupidity and ignorance and try to pass it off as God's will. The God that i believe in is a just and loving God. I pray that God sends comfort and strength to the family and friends of this young man and we give no attention to these pigs!!
April Garland January 30, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Another article about military funeral protest by Westboro Baptist Church...it got me thinking. They gabble on about how it's their Constitutional right to speak their piece, and how all the laws against these protests won't stop them. Well, it's time we change our battle tactics! You need a permit to protest, correct? Let's start with: funeral protest permit, $20K, to include the cute little metal pen they make for WBC; all applicable time & distance rules. Additional police protection, street cleanup & removal of WBC flyers from posts will be extra, to be billed after the event when costs are tallied. I'd also insist on cash or certified bank check for the initial fee. Of course, this rate does not include the largest cities like NYC, Los Angeles...feel free to raise that starting rate to $50K, as your costs will certainly be higher. Cities, towns, villages, unincorporated hamlets-band together & make this happen. Of course, this law would apply to anyone who wants to protest a military or private funeral. It's time the taxpayers stood up & said, we're not paying for this. If WBC wants to bring the circus to town, the show should be free for the community~it's a good way for Westboro Baptist Church to fulfill the requirements of their 'Charity' nonprofit status. @Catziiis

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