Protection from Protesters - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Protection from Protesters

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December 11, 2006

Valdosta - On October 3rd, Staff Sgt James Ellis was killed by a roadside bomb while serving with the U.S Army in Iraq.

Ulrica Ellis was devastated to learn a hate group was planning to picket outside her husband's funeral.  "For them to come and do something like that instead of paying respects, it upset me," Ellis says.

An area outside the Greater Union Baptist Church was set aside for the protesters, but they never showed up.  Situations like this prompted state lawmakers to take action  "Quite frankly the General Assembly was offended and we passed a legislation that makes it a misdemeanor to protest, yelling or being at a funeral and trying to disrupt it in any sort of manner," says State Senator Tim Golden.

House Bill 606 does just that.  "Whether it's yelling, physically blocking funerals, anything you do at funerals, you can not protest or if you do you have to be 500 feet away," Golden adds.

The General Assembly hopes this new law will keep hate groups away from funerals in the state.  Military families are just thankful for the help.  "I had no idea what they could do to us but at least the next family will know what to prepare for," Ellis says.

Oklahoma and Iowa have also adapted similar laws.