Governor signs emergency measure to provide mourners peace

‘During times of grief, families should be free from harassment or intimidation’

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governor jan brewerPHOENIX – After returning to Phoenix on from her trip to Tucson on Tuesday to meet with victims of Saturday’s shooting, Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1101, with an emergency clause, allowing the law to take effect immediately.

SB 1101, which passed unanimously, amends the criminal code by adding section 13-2930, Unlawful protest activities, making it a class 1 misdemeanor to picket or engage in other protest activities within 300 feet of the property line of any residence, cemetery, funeral home, church, synagogue or other establishment within an hour before or one hour after the conducting of a funeral or burial service at that location.

The legislature came together in bipartisan fashion to pass the bill after the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas announced, immediately following the shooting that left six people dead, including U.S. District Judge John M. Roll and 9-year old Christina Taylor Green, and 12 wounded, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, it planned to picket the victims’ funerals.

Westboro issued a news release headlined: “Thank God for the shooter – 6 dead! WBC will picket their funerals!”

The news release goes on to say, “God appointed this rod for your sins! God sent the shooter! This hateful nation unleashed violent veterans on the servants of God at WBC – hoping to silence our kind warning to obey God and flee the wrath to come … Your federal judge is dead and your (fag-promoting, baby killing, proud-sinner) Congresswoman fights for her life. God is avenging himself on this rebellious house!”

In conclusion it proclaimed, “WBC prays for your destruction – more shooters, more dead carcasses piling up, young, old, leader and commoner – all. Your doom is upon you! Praise his name!”

Appalled that anyone could consider picketing the funeral of a 9-year-old girl, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Dist. 15, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, stated, “Today we have joined together to provide some small measure of comfort for families grieving over the loss of a loved one. During times of grief, families should be free from harassment or intimidation. This law does the right thing by protecting those families.”

House Speaker Kirk Adams, R-Dist. 19, called protesting or picketing outside the funeral of an innocent victim “despicable.”

On Tuesday, as she headed back to Phoenix to sign the bill, Brewer stated it was a shame that such legislation was necessary but it was.

Following the passage of the bill, Westboro issued a statement saying it will pass on picketing Green’s funeral on Thursday and did so in exchange for radio airtime on Toronto’s The Edge 102.1 and KXXT-AM in Phoenix.

However, Westboro says it still plans to picket Roll’s funeral on Friday and the intersection where Giffords and the others were shot.

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