OMAHA, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Sixteen protesters at a military funeral
in Omaha were doused with pepper spray from passing motorists,
The funeral for Staff Sgt. Michael Bock, killed in Afghanistan,
included about 600 members of the Patriot Guard Riders, who
protectively ringed the church, and members of the Westboro
Baptist Church, who say that military deaths are a sign that God
disapproves of homosexuality.
Members of the church attended the funeral, holding up signs that
say, "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," and "AIDS Cures Fags," CNN
Police arrested George Vogel on 16 counts of misdemeanor assault
and one count of child neglect. Allegedly, Vogel's child was in
the truck when he drove past the funeral and extended his arm to
spray the protesters.
"Initial indications are he was probably targeting (members of)
the Westboro Baptist Church," said Omaha Police Department
spokesman Michael Pecha.
There were conflicting reports on the interaction between the
Patriot Guard Riders, the church group, and counter-protesters,
who also showed up.
"We don't get close to them. We have our backs to them," said
Scott Knudsen, one of the Patriot Guard Riders.
But church group member Shirley Phelps-Roper said several Patriot
Guard Riders joined the counter-protesters, who had "jostled"
members of the church, the newspaper said.