KC passes ordinance to restrict funeral protests

Northeast News
November 7,  2012 

Those protesting at funerals in Kansas City will now face tougher restrictions.

City Council members unanimously passed an ordinance Nov. 1, which states that protestors must stay back 300 feet, about the length of a football field, from any residence, church, cemetery, funeral home and synagogue. In addition, protestors are not allowed to protest one hour before or one hour after a funeral or burial service.

“It will certainly lessen the likelihood of violent confrontations,” City Council member John Sharp told Northeast News. “Most importantly, it will give the families of the deceased some measure of peace.”

Kansas City passed a similar ordinance in 1993, but repealed the ordinance in 1999 due to the Missouri Court of Appeals not upholding funeral picketing restrictions and the threat of litigation from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church are known for delivering anti-gay protests at military funerals.

“Every city in Missouri that had a funeral picketing ordinance was then contacted by the attorneys for the Phelps family (which heads the Westboro Baptist Church) and told, ‘If you don’t repeal your ordinance, we are going to sue. When we sue, we will win,'” said City Attorney Bill Geary.

However, on Oct. 16, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed its prior stance of invalidating funeral picketing regulations and approved restrictions enacted by the city of Manchester, Mo.

In the case of Phelps-Roper v. City of Manchester, the court stated, “It is unreasonable to expect a family or friend of the deceased to reschedule or forgo attending the funeral so as to avoid offensive picketing.”

Kansas City has now mirrored the Manchester ordinance and Geary said, “Our ordinance should not be subject to any challenge. Someone’s going to have to be very imaginative to find a new way to challenge this ordinance.”

Sharp, who’s seen the Westboro Baptist protests firsthand, said they’re not peaceful.

Sharp first saw the protests at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center gave a speech. In addition to monitoring the activity of violent white supremacist groups, the organization also protects the legislative rights of gay and lesbian students, Sharp said.

“Words aren’t adequate to describe how vicious these protests are,” Sharp said. “These protestors are very physically belligerent and scream at the top of their lungs. I was shocked at the hatred.”

Sharp added that passing the ordinance is “a matter of human decency” and recognizes the right to privacy for the families who are grieving.

City Council member Scott Taylor said the ordinance received unanimous support.

“It’s rare we have an ordinance that is unanimously supported so quickly,” Taylor said. “I hope the message is loud and clear to the Phelps family that this behavior will not be tolerated.”

Comments are closed.

  • Office Tower slated for Indep/Benton

    April 1st, 2016

    Northeast Ruse KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Officials with Cashphlash, an international payday lending agency, has expressed interest in constructing a […]

    Fire destroys pawn shop warehouse

    November 19th, 2014

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Nov. 19, 2014 KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The Kansas City Fire Department were called to an […]

    One dead after morning shooting outside City Hall

    November 12th, 2014

    Joe Jarosz Northeast News Nov. 12, 2014 KANSAS CITY, Missouri — One man is dead after a early morning shooting […]

    Kessler Bark: Record breaking tree grows in HNE

    November 12th, 2014

      By Joe Jarosz Northeast News November 12, 2014 KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The Northeast is now able to claim […]

    Neighborhood Advisory Council seeks candidates for 2015

    November 12th, 2014

    Northeast News November 12, 2014 KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The Kansas City, Mo., Neighborhood Advisory Council is seeking candidates for […]

  • U.S. Navy Blue Angels to stop in Kansas City for preseason visit

    November 11th, 2014

    Northeast News Nov. 11, 2014 KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The U.S. Navy Blue Angel representatives will visit Kansas City next week […]

    KCMO to host hard to recycle items event on America Recycles Day

    November 10th, 2014

    Northeast News Nov. 10, 2014 KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Are old televisions, mattresses, bicycles and other items taking up space […]

    City offices closed Nov. 11, 27 and 28; trash pickup delayed

    November 8th, 2014

    Northeast News Nov. 8, 2014 KANSAS CITY, Missouri — City Hall wants you to know there will be a few […]

    Gov. Nixon announces summer jobs program for 1,500 low-income youth in Kansas City area

    November 7th, 2014

    Joe Jarosz Northeast News Nov. 14, 2014 KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The lesson learned from earning a buck is something […]

    Jackson County gets four new faces for Legislature

    November 5th, 2014

    Joe Jarosz Northeast News Nov. 5, 2014 KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Jackson County Democrats had nothing to worry about on […]

  • What’s Happening

    Local artists offered chance to display on Crossroads ARTBOARDS

    By Melissa Wharton Northeast News Charlotte Street Foundation (CSF) and Missouri Bank are once again calling on local artists for […]

    Fire destroys home near Askew and Smart

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News An early morning fire near the intersection of Askew and Smart on Friday, September 22 […]

    Northeast Newscast Episode 27 – Northeast HS Homecoming and sports at KCPS w/ athletic director Dr. James Sanders

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News This week on the Northeast Newscast, Kansas City Public Schools athletic director Dr. James Sanders […]

  • Local Weather