YUCAIPA (CBS) — The community of Yucaipa is rallying around a soldier’s family.
Army Private First Class Nathan Tyler Davis is scheduled to be buried Friday.
Members of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church says they will picket the funeral. The group is known for picketing the funerals of soldiers — gay and straight — to protest what they believe is a country headed in the wrong direction when it comes to acceptance of gay rights.
The group — which has about 40 members and mostly from one Topeka-based family — is considered a hate group by many.
Suraya Fadel, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, spoke to Yucaipa residents who plan a quiet memorial processional — basically to overshadow and drown out any protest.The plan, she reported, was for hundreds to line the streets so that the family would be spared the image of the Westboro Church members protesting.
Davis, 20, was killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb two weeks ago.
The residents Fadel spoke to wanted to express their outrage that the group would picket anyone’s funeral — let alone a soldier who died in battle.
“It’s devastating,” said one.
“I feel real bad about this,” said another.
“They have their own beliefs. And they have the right to those beliefs. That is America. But picketing a funeral?,” said Gail Pelissero, a Yucaipa business owner, ” You can’t stand out there and tell a family they’re better off with their son being done. What a horrible thought. What kind of people are these?”
Vietnam vet Dennis Pelissero was more succinct. “Sick people.”
Another resident said, “We should support our soldiers no matter what. They defend our right to protest.”