POSTED: Friday, December 21, 2012 - 2:15pm
UPDATED: Friday, December 21, 2012 - 5:16pm
SLIDELL, LA (WDSU) — A small church notorious for disrupting solemn events has stated it will do just that in St. Tammany Parish this weekend.
The Westboro Baptist Church travels the country picketing at funerals for, among other things, fallen members of the military.
The Kansas-based church has posted on its website that it intends to demonstrate at services on Saturday for Sgt. Michael Guillory.
Guillory was saluted by hundreds when his remains were brought home on Thursday.
The news of the church’s plans spread across social media and throughout St. Tammany Parish.
Many viewers contacted WDSU on our Facebook page, concerned about the possible protest.
Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith said his department is aware of the potential protest.
Smith said Louisiana state law prohibits any group from disrupting a funeral service. Groups have a right to protest as long as they don't disrupt the service, Smith said.
Slidell Mayor Freddy Drennan was also made aware of the possible demonstration.
The city issued a response to the organization's announcement Friday afternoon.
The statement read in part, "While we are saddened that this organization chooses to exercise its First Amendment Rights at such a tragic time for the Guillory family, the organization is protected by the Constitution when doing so."
"We ask that our citizens not engage in any way with any demonstrators so that Sgt. Guillory’s funeral is a peaceful and respectful opportunity to honor him for the ultimate sacrifice in his service to our country."
The church members are composed mostly from a single family that founded the group.
As much as they do disrupt events, often they do not follow through on their announced plans to stage a demonstration.