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Arrests At Phelps Clan Funeral Demo

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Arrests At Phelps Clan Funeral Demo

by The Associated Press

May 22, 2006 - 1:00 pm ET

(Seaford Delaware) Five people face criminal charges after a weekend confrontation with members of a Kansas group that believes U.S. military casualties are God's retribution for America's support of homosexuality, authorities said Monday.

Members of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., gathered in Seaford on Sunday for a protest in conjunction with the funeral of Marine Cpl. Cory Palmer, who died earlier this month from injuries suffered in Iraq.

The Kansas group, carrying signs reading "God Hates Fags," "Fags Doom Nations" and "Vengeance is Mine, Sayeth the Lord," was met by a crowd of about 1,000 angry counter-demonstrators shouting "USA! USA!," as well as various taunts and obscenities.

Passing motorists honked their horns and hundreds of motorcycle riders revved their engines in an attempt to drown out the church members' shouts. Some counter-demonstrators hurled eggs, stones and water bottles.

State troopers and Seaford police officers were between the two factions, but authorities say a Bridgeville man broke through the police line and began assaulting two of the Westboro protesters shortly before the demonstration ended.

David Jones, 29, was charged with two counts of third-degree assault and one count of disorderly conduct. He was released on $1,500 unsecured bond.

A 16-year-old Seaford boy was charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct after a tire on the Westboro group's rented van was slashed. He was being held at a detention center Monday in lieu of $1,000 bond.

Christopher Daudt, 19, Stephen Carson, 19, and Allen Dunn, 56, all of Seaford, also were charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct after several counter-demonstrators threw rocks and bottles at a fire department vehicle carrying the Westboro protesters away from the scene, breaking several windows. Each was released on $1,000 bond.

"Tempers got very high," said Stephanie Hansen, an attorney for the city. "The city provided plenty of police protection and did everything in its power to protect the members of Westboro Baptist Church as they exercised their First Amendment rights."

Despite the violence, police department spokesman Capt. Gary Flood said he believed area residents showed "good restraint."

©365Gay.com 2006

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