Small showing for troop protestors

July 16, 2008 7:36:49 PM PDT
An infamous group known from the Westboro Baptist Church protested troops and the death of Specialist Megan Touma at Fort Bragg Wednesday.

When the group arrived, dozens of Army families were waiting for them.

More than 150 people in support of Touma and troops lined one side of Bragg Boulevard. They say more than anything, they wanted to take the spotlight off a notorious hate group and place a spotlight onto their men and women in the military.

"It's appalling," Army wife Danell Shafer said. "It's disgusting. I can't explain it."

Shafer waited more than a week for Wednesday's event. She called all the Army wives she could, corralled veterans' groups and current soldiers. They lined up on Bragg Boulevard with signs, t-shirts and American flags.

"I wanted to show up on behalf of my teammate, Paul Sweeney, who was killed in October of 2003," soldier Scott Hawkins said. "For all the guys in third group that I've know personally that have given their life."

More than 150 protested Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for picketing soldiers' funerals.

"We have disobeyed God at the institutional level, and now we've got a bunch of soldiers who are murderers and rapists," Margie Phelps, Westboro Baptist Church, said.

The Army supporters decided to speak out, leaning on the support of their network of Fort Bragg moms.

"The more we get people out there saying that we don't believe what they're saying, that they'll do the same thing and eventually they'll stop.," Shafer said.

Under police watch, Fort Bragg supporters cheered as cars and trucks honked in support of the troops.

Only three members, including one child, showed to represent Westboro.

The protest lasted a little over an hour and Fayetteville Police say everything ran smoothly.


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