Perhaps predictably, the Westboro Baptist Church has vowed to protest the funerals of two victims that died in the Lafayette theater shooting this week. But they may meet quite a bit of resistance.
Hundreds of counter-protesters are planning to form a human chain to protect mourners, the New York Daily News reports. The event page for the Lafayette Human Barrier shows at least 15,000 listed as "going." And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order allowing state troopers to prevent the hate group from harassing mourners.
In an executive order, Jindal wrote that state police would "take swift and immediate action" to prevent the professional trolls from interrupting services for Mayci Breaux, 21, and Jillian Johnson, 33, The Hill reports. The two young women were killed Thursday night when John Russell "Rusty" Houser opened fire on a theater audience during the Amy Schumer movie, "Trainwreck."
"In times of grief and mourning, the rule of law is especially important to protect the rights of citizens when they are most vulnerable, and any effort to disrupt or interfere with a family’s ability to grieve following the loss of a loved one is a reprehensible act," Jindal said in an executive order for state police it intervene in the case of funeral interruptions.
On the event page for the Lafayette Human Barrier, organizers wrote that those shielding families must be peaceful and leave all weapons at home.
"This will NOT be an event to further your political views or make a political statement. This is to assist the families of the victims. I do NOT want your rebel flags or any thing other than the Acadiana, US or Louisiana flags.. We are also not promoting any religion. We are simply a wall," the organizers wrote.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Houser was a supporter of the Westboro Baptist Church, as well as other hate groups.
Houser, of Phenix City, Alabama, had a prolific online history that reveals he thought of the United States as a "financially failing filth farm," according to his social media posts. Houser had a "diffuse collection of troubles and grievances — personal, political and social — who had a particular anger for women, liberals, the government and a changing world," according to the New York Times.
The Westboro Baptist Church's modus operandi is to protest high-profile funerals carrying posters that bear highly offensive and inflammatory phrases, like "God hates f*gs."