Will Westboro Baptists Protest in Mansfield?
While announced but called unlikely, residents are preparing for a potential appearance on the morning of February 19.
On February 19, Mansfield will find out if the Westboro Baptist Church will visit Mansfield or if their threat to picket the funeral of LTC Michael Greene was simply that, a threat.
According to the Sun Chronicle, the group would not confirm if they would protest tomorrow, but then said it was part of the plan.
In the past, the group has not shown up to announced pickets, a point that Mansfield Police Chief O’Neill made to Mansfield Patch. In addition, O’Neill has asked residents to not create a spectacle and to let the police handle the group if they show up.
According to Mansfield Selectmen Chairman Olivier Kozoloswki, a picket near St. Mary's Church, the location the funeral, would be very hard at the moment. With snow covered sidewalks around the church and no sidewalks across the street, there is very limited space for protesters.
Yesterday, residents gathered at Congregational Church to discuss a response. In the end, the conversation drifted to paying tribute to a Mansfield resident rather than giving attention to a hateful group. Recommendations included standing on the route that LTC Greene will travel after the funeral with American flags and signs in support of Greene. If there were to be a picket, the most peaceful solution discussed was to simply stand in front of the protesters with their backs turned so they cannot be seen. It was agreed that a violent solution is not the answer and the responce should be peaceful.
Some residents hope to have a tribute to Greene by waving flags near the North Common around 10:00 a.m.
After the funeral mass, LTC Greene will be escorted by Mansfield police from St. Mary’s Church down 106 West to 140 South as Greene heads to his final resting place in the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne.