Fred Phelps is going to hell
Patriot Guard Riders
Bikers roll to military funerals to oppose anti-gay protests
Tuesday, February 21, 2006; Posted: 7:55 a.m. EST (12:55 GMT)
FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky (AP) -- Wearing vests covered in military patches, a band of motorcyclists rolls around the country from one soldier's funeral to another, cheering respectfully to overshadow jeers from church protesters.
They call themselves the Patriot Guard Riders, and they are more than 5,000 strong, forming to counter anti-gay protests held by the Rev. Fred Phelps at military funerals.
Phelps believes American deaths in Iraq are divine punishment for a country that he says harbors homosexuals. His protesters carry signs thanking God for so-called IEDs -- explosives that are a major killer of soldiers in Iraq.
The bikers shield the families of dead soldiers from the protesters, and overshadow the jeers with 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," said Don Woodrick, the group's Kentucky captain. "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."
At least 14 states are considering laws aimed at the funeral protesters, who at a recent memorial service at Fort Campbell wrapped themselves in upside-down American flags. 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. Community members came in the freezing rain to chant "U-S-A, U-S-A" alongside them.
Shirley Phelps-Roper, a daughter of Fred Phelps and an attorney for the Topeka, Kansas-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."
Richard Wilbur, a retired police detective, said his Indiana Patriot Guard group only comes to funerals if invited by family. He said he has no problem with protests against the war but sees no place for objectors at a family's final goodbye to a soldier.
"No one deserves this," he said.
This is AWESOME. I want to see these guys pound the crap out of Phelps and his idiots. I'm not normally a flag-waver but I'd buy these guys a fresh pack of the Stars and Stripes any day.
posted by Steve @ 1:43:00 AM