Bikers Roll to Soldier Funerals To Drown Out Protesters

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by 007, Feb 16, 2006.

  1. 007
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    007 Charter Member Supporting Member

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    Bikers Roll to Soldier Funerals To Drown Out Protesters


    By RYAN LENZ - Associated Press
    February 16, 2006


    Wearing leather chaps and vests covered in military patches, a band of motorcyclists rolls from one soldier's funeral to another in hopes their respectful cheers and revving engines will drown out the insults of protesters.

    Calling themselves the Patriot Guard Riders, they are made up of motorcycle club members who could no longer tolerate a Kansas-based fundamentalist church picketing military funerals with signs reading, "Thank God for IEDs."

    The bikers shield the families from the protesters, and overshadow the jeers with their own patriotic chants and a sea of red, white and blue flags. "The most important thing we can do is let families know that the nation cares," the group's Kentucky captain, Don Woodrick, said. "When a total stranger gets on a motorcycle in the middle of winter and drives 300 miles to hold a flag, that makes a powerful statement."

    Across the nation, Patriot Guard riders number more than 5,000 and at least 14 states, including Indiana, are considering laws aimed specifically at the funeral protest group led by the Reverend Fred Phelps, who believes American deaths in Iraq are divine punishment for a country that harbors homosexuals.

    During a protest at a recent memorial service at Fort Campbell, church protesters wrapped themselves in upside-down American flags and waved neon colored signs. They danced and sang impromptu songs peppered with vulgarities that condemned homosexuals and soldiers.

    The Patriot Guard was also there, waving up a ruckus of support for the families across the street as community members came in the freezing rain to chant "U-S-A, U-S-A" alongside them.

    This is just the right thing to do. This is something America didn't do in the '70s," the group's national spokesman, Kurt Mayer, said. "Whether we agree with why we're over there, these soldiers are dying to protect our freedoms."

    Shirley Phelps-Roper, a daughter of Fred Phelps and an attorney for the Topeka, Kan.-based church, said neither state laws nor the Patriot Guard can silence their message that God killed the soldiers because they fought for a country that embraces homosexuals.

    "The scriptures are crystal clear that when God sets out to punish a nation, it is with the sword. An IED is just a broken-up sword," Phelps-Roper said. "Since that is his weapon of choice, our forum of choice has got to be a dead soldier's funeral."

    The church, which is not affiliated with a larger denomination, is made up mostly of Rev. Phelps's extended family members. A small group of them appeared last month in West Virginia outside a memorial for the 12 men killed in the Sago Mine disaster. They held signs reading "Thank God for Dead Miners" and "Miners in Hell."

    During the 1990s, church members were known mostly for picketing the funerals of AIDS victims, and they have long been tracked as a hate group by the Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project.

    The project's deputy director, Heidi Beirich, said other groups have tried to counter Rev. Phelps's message, but none have been as organized as the Patriot Guard.

    "I'm not sure anybody has gone to this length to stand in solidarity," she said. "It's nice that these veterans and their supporters are trying to do something. I can't imagine anything worse, your loved one is killed in Iraq and you've got to deal with Fred Phelps."

    Kentucky, home to sprawling Fort Campbell along the Tennessee line, was among the first states to attempt to deal with Rev. Phelps legislatively. Its House and Senate have each passed bills that would limit people from protesting within 300 feet of a funeral or memorial service. The Senate version would also keep protesters from being within earshot of grieving friends and family members.

    The Indiana Senate has passed a bill intended to prohibit protests within 500 feet of funerals. The House is considering the measure.

    The bills were written to protect families of soldiers such as Private Jonathan Pfender, 22, of Evansville, Ind., a soldier from Fort Campbell's 101st Airborne Division who was killed in January by a roadside bomb in Beiji, Iraq.

    Westboro church members protested at Pfender's funeral, screaming profanities at mourners and the pastor as they passed. Family members were shielded from the insults by the rumble of Patriot Guard motorcycles.

    "We were glad that the Patriot Guard Riders were there," said Jackie Pfender, the soldier's stepmother. "This group of protesters wanted to put something negative on Jonathan's funeral. In actuality, it became a positive thing because of the support we had."

    Patriot Guard members only show up at funerals if invited by family. Richard Wilbur, a retired police detective, said his Indiana Patriot Guard group came to the Pfender funeral at the family's request after protesters announced they planned to attend.

    "No one deserves this," Mr. Wilbur said. "If I were burying my loved one and they were out there yelling anything close to what they yell to the families of these soldiers, I know my temperament. I probably would not handle it very well."

    http://bikernews.org/news.php?extend.3128
     
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  2. 007
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    007 Charter Member Supporting Member

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    Amen to that brother... I wouldn't either... :bat:
     
  3. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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  4. manu1959
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    manu1959 Left Coast Isolationist

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    fundamentalist church picketing military funerals with signs reading, "Thank God for IEDs."

    it is times like this that i wish i had applied for sniper training and had a good rifle and good overlook posistion
     
  5. 007
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    007 Charter Member Supporting Member

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    I wish I'd have seen that one from December Kath... and I check the board every day.

    Anyway, this just made my blood boil. My brother was a Viet Nam veteran, and if anyone had been there bad mouthing him at his funeral, I have been cracking some fucking skulls, regardless of any consequences. It pisses me off to see these ASSHOLES do it to anyone else too.

    I'm going to look into this a little further, and if the Patriots ever roll somewhere around here, I'm rolling WITH THEM. :salute:
     
  6. 007
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    007 Charter Member Supporting Member

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    Doesn't it make you wonder just what the fuck it is these poeple are thinking???!!!

    I'm at at a loss! I can't IMAGINE what would turn a person into such a mother fucking IDIOT!!!
     
  7. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    I was kind of surprised when no one responded, though it was close to Christmas! Sounds like such a great and respectful idea. I doubt very much that the families or friends are in the mood to deal with the wienies at that time.
     
  8. Gunny
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    Gunny Gold Member

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    Too bad they don't act like the bikers I hung with in the late 70s. THAT sign is unacceptable. :bat:
     
  9. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    To fight close to the funeral would be more unacceptable. Blocking the site from friends and family, that is a very good thing to do.
     
  10. 007
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    007 Charter Member Supporting Member

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    I can tell you from experience Kathy... they're not. I've been a member of the American Legion for 15 years now. I've been part of the Honor Gaurd at many funerals of veterans receiving a twenty one gun salute. Had some MORON been shouting INSULTS at that time, I'd have waited until the ceremony was over out of respect, and then run down the insulters and kicked their pencil necked ass up around their shoulders. As I write this, I imagine the scenario, and my ears are hot with rage.

    Gonna take a break and crack a cold one...
     

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