Westboro No Show at Poplar Bluff Veteran’s Funeral


Staff Sergeant Summers
Though they announced they’d be protesting in Poplar Bluff, Missouri today, Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) didn’t appear to attend the services of Staff Sergeant Eric Summers this morning. Reports from Poplar Bluff, Missouri have been pouring in all morning (including pictures) featuring the friends, family and members of Human Shield Poplar Bluff and in each photo, flag-waving, proud supporters appear without any sign of the hate group posing as a church.
It seems that WBC – much like their promises to protest in South Africa – decided to advertise a protest without actually attending to actually carry through with a protest.
This isn’t the first time WBC advertised a protest at a soldier’s funeral they never actually intended to attend. In October they advertised a protest of Army Ranger Cody Patterson who died in Afghanistan but failed to actually show up at the memorial services. Though their threats of protest have traditionally been enough to garner headlines and potential lawsuits (as that’s usually the primary goal of picketing high profile events and military funerals), their tactics have begun shifting in recent years with new funeral laws in different states preventing protests within a certain distance of memorial services.
Perhaps it’s for the best that they intended to protest – the entire incident seems to have brought together the town of Poplar Bluff to celebrate the life of someone who served our country.
[Note to readers: if you attended the memorial services and did see Westboro in attendance, please contact us. Everyone we’ve spoken to has confirmed they never saw a member of WBC in attendance.]

Edit to add as of December 16, 2013 at 12pm Pacific:
According to one reader, WBC was indeed in Poplar Bluff and did attempt to protest; however their efforts were thwarted and they did not press the matter. This account comes courtesy of an anonymous commenter (below). According to the eye witness, “The WBC did arrive in Poplar Bluff and stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn. Early Saturday Morning they attempted to have breakfast at Huddle House (which was going to provide service to them) by were convinced by those of us there directing them to the only known place they were allowed and that was the Public Library. At one point they tried to protest at the VA Hospital, but were escorted out by numerous law enforcement personnel. Then they moved across from the Black River Coliseum and was met by hostile individuals that quickly changed their minds.”

We have not received any other tips or photos corroborating their attendance as of this update.

For virtually his entire life, Tim has been writing. Over the years he’s dabbled in mainstream fiction, science fiction, dystopian fiction, and personal essays. The one consistent thread through his entire writing career has been blogging – he’s been doing it since 1997 in one form or another. In addition to writing Tim has frequently worked and volunteered as a civil rights advocate including on campus LGBT advocacy as well as interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.