Locals join efforts to block harassment at funeral

Outspoken religious fanatics, a fallen Marine and a massive show of patriotism.
That’s what Dane Lovelady, said drew him to a stoic show of support for American troops on Friday.
‘It’s too bad but it sometimes takes a crises to produce change in our society,? said Lovelady, 57, a Groveland Township resident. ‘It’s unfortunate that people have to die for this to happen, but this turnout is impressive.?
On Friday, Lovelady, along with five riders of the Waterford HOG motorcycle group cruised to the Swartz Funeral Home in Mundy Township joining more than 600 other flag-waving supporters at the funeral for Lance Corpal Brandon Webb. A Swartz Creek native and firefighter, Webb was killed in Iraq on June, 20.
Friday’s outpouring was a reaction to a threat of protestors from the Westboro Baptist Church, Topeka, Ka., who engage in demonstrations at military funerals nationwide opposing the homosexual lifestyle. The group says military deaths are Gods way of getting back at gays. Representives from Westboro Baptist Church did not return e-mails or phone calls to The Citizen.
Rick Lamp owner of Swartz Funeral Home, G-1225 West Hill Road said the Westboro Baptist Church people arrived in the late morning but when they realized the massive support for Webb it deterred their plans.
‘One of our staff told them they would not be able to protest here,? said Lamp. All the businesses gathered together and shut them out. We appreciate the support for the Webb family and those forming the block along Hill Road.?
Lovelady was among those along Hill Road and said the gathering brought back memories of campus unrest at Kent State University in the 1970s where he attended.
Lovelady was a student and in class at the time Kent State University when four students where killed and nine wounded by gunfire from Ohio National Guard troops on Monday, May 4, 1970. The shooting came after four days of increasingly agitated demonstrations by members of the student body. The Kent State students were protesting the American invasion of Cambodia prompted by President Richard Nixon on April 25, and announced in a television address five days later.
‘The Kent State events and these people from Westboro both pertain to wars, there’s some negativity created. The biggest reason I went on Friday was to have Webb’s family bury him in peace, with no harassment.?
‘At Kent State outside agitators came in and riled the students up to the point of burning buildings and riots. These people from Westboro are so obnoxious, they’re knocking on the wrong door people turnout to support Webb and our soldiers, not fight the system.?
Ortonville resident, Thomas Street, 64, also a member of the Waterford HOG stood with Lovelady at Swartz Funeral Home along Hill Road.
Street, who served in the Army from 1965 to 1968, said he was asked to come to show support for the troops.
‘You may or may not agree with the war efforts right now, but we must support the troops and their families,? said Street. ‘It’s inspiring to see the level of support for Webb and others. ‘I don’t mind the Westboro Baptists protesting the war but they need to find another way to do so.?
Ty Caldwell, 38, rode to the rally from his Atlas Township area home in support of our troops and for a close friend in the Army who’s currently serving his third tour of duty in Iraq.
‘It’s not a war we all agree with but this rally is a small token of support of our troops,? said Cladwell, known around the biker world as ‘T-Bone.? ‘These protestors from Westboro are abusing their First Amendment rights of free speech.?