Military-Funeral Protesters Face Off with Klan

June 2, 2011
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Members of the controversial church that says the deaths of American soldiers are God’s way of punishing the United States for tolerating gays and lesbians reportedly met some opposition Monday from a controversial group that says the white race is being “denigrated.”

The Knights of the Southern Cross, a Virginia group that claims to be affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan, squared off against the Westboro Baptist Church outside Arlington National Cemetery hours before a Memorial Day service attended by President Obama, CNN reported Monday.

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(Watch a video of CNN’s report below)

The church gained national prominence after winning a Supreme Court ruling in March that said its protests at military funerals were protected by the First Amendment. More recently, members of the church reportedly protested in Joplin, Mo., during Mr. Obama’s visit to the tornado-ravaged city Sunday.

“It’s an absolute shame that they show up and disrupt people’s funerals,” said Dennis LaBonte, who said he was the “Imperial Wizard” of the Southern Cross group. “We’re just here in support of the troops.”

Some of the 10 protesters with the Southern Cross group stood in front of the Westboro protest, which had an attendance of at least three people, in an attempt to block them from street view, CNN reported.

“They have no moral authority on anything,” Abigail Phelps, daughter of Westboro founder the Rev. Fred Phelps, told CNN about the Southern Cross group.

Across the street, as many as 70 people shouted down the chants from the Westboro camp, CNN reported.

“They’re twisted and confused, and we’re just here to show them there are people who think they’re completely wrong,” Malaika Elias, one of the counterprotesters, told CNN.

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