A motorcycle group with East Texas connections is praising a recent judgement against a protest group. Earlier this week, a jury awarded a Baltimore man nearly $11 million in his suit against a Kansas church for protesting at his son's funeral. His son, is just one of several soldiers the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas has targeted with protests.
The volunteer motorcycle group Patriot Guard Riders is doing its best to protect the dignity of fallen hero's from these protestors. For the past two years members of the patriot guard riders have made it their personal mission to ensure the sanctity and respect at military funerals around the country.
"It was some guys in the American Legion that saw a need to come out and stand between that church and the families," said Vietnam War Veteran and Patriot Guard Captain Louis McGinty. "That's where it started. It's evolved into a 100,000 plus people across the United States." They formed in August of 2006 in response to the protests by members of a Kansas church at military funerals. They saw the protestors holding insulting signs, under the theme of America tolerating homosexuality.
"It's hard , when they show up and you're across the road from them, or two feet away not to confront them," said McGinty. "It's hard not to say anything. It's hard not to call them something." For members of the Patriot Guard, they're reasoning is very simple, to give respect and dignity at the funerals of those who lost their lives in service to this country. Riders have discouraged countless protests at other funerals over the last two years.
"Just to show that family, what they did meant something, it meant something to every single one of us," said McGinty. Several states have implemented laws banning funeral protests. Congress also passed a law barring protests at federal cemeteries.