Emergency Legislation Establishes Protest Buffer Zone at Arizona Funerals

January 12, 2011 - 11:39 AM

Tucson service

A mass honoring all victims of Saturday's shooting in Tucson, Ariz., took place at St. Odilia Catholic Church on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Greg Bryan, Pool)

(CNSNews.com) - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday signed emergency legislation to bar a planned protest at the funeral of the Tucson gunman's youngest victim.

A publicity-seeking fringe group that calls itself a church announced plans on its Web site to picket the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green on Jan. 13. 
 
The bill enacted on Wednesday amends Arizona law to prohibit "unlawful protest activities."

"A person shall not picket or engage in other protest activities...within three hundred feet of the property line of any residence, cemetery, funeral home, church, synagogue or other establishment during or within one hour before or one hour after the conducting of a funeral or burial service at that place," the measure reads.

"This act is an emergency measure that is necessary to preserve the public peace, health or safety and is operative immediately as provided by law."

In a statement posted on her Web site, Arizona's Republican governor said the bill represents "a truly bipartisan effort to assure that grieving families and friends will be free from harassment and intimidation at the funerals of their loved ones."

Brewer added that “despicable acts of emotional terrorism will not be tolerated in the State of Arizona.  This legislation will assure that the victims of Saturday’s tragic shooting in Tucson will be laid to rest in peace with the full dignity and respect that they deserve."

Arizona has joined 46 other states in filing a brief at the United States Supreme Court in support of grieving families who are seeking redress against protests intended to disrupt funerals.

The funeral protest group, which calls itself the Westboro Baptist Church, praises God for the Tucson gunman and says Christina is “better off dead” because she was “raised…on lies” and her “moral compass” was broken.