Counter-protest thwarts Westboro activists

Carleigh Walter, Publisher

The Westboro Baptist Church traveled to Palm Bay on Wednesday with a plan to protest the funeral of Army Spc. Justin Horsely, only to be overwhelmed by the mass of 754 citizens sporting red, white and blue. Westboro is a Kansas-based Independent Baptist church known for extreme ideologies and protest activities, which include picketing funerals of fallen U.S. servicemen.

After Horsely, a 2009 Bayside High School graduate, was killed while on patrol in Pul-E Alam Afghanistan July 22, Florida Today was alerted of the church’s plan to protest.

Soon, a Facebook page was set up for a counter-demonstration. The site — “Original Human Shield for Fallen Palm Bay Soldier ” — had 691 members the night before the event was to take place in front of Ammen Family Cremation and Funeral Care in Palm Bay.

People of all ages and origins were in attendance to show their support, decked in American Flags and lining the sidewalk waiting for the arrival of the Westboro group, which stayed in its cars  and drove away without a word.