Monroe County Bans Protests

by J-Touchette

Monroe County passed a new law forbidding hate groups from protesting at funerals - especially those of members of the military. Suffolk County on Long Island passed a similar law in 2010.

Monroe County has made protests at funerals subject to misdemeanor charges, after a June 14, 2011 vote in the legislature.

They’ve made a buffer zone of 1,000 feet, which is around the size of three football fields, where people are not allowed to protest. This buffer also includes a time frame of one hour before, one hour after and during the funeral, or related events at a cemetery, funeral home or house of worship.

This is in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that maintains protester’s right to free speech, but that municipalities can set up buffers.

The federal ruling comes from the case centered around the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, known for protesting military funerals, often with signs saying, “Thank God for dead soldiers.”

Originally, the county’s buffer was 500 feet, but has been beefed up to 1,000 feet and a penalty of up to a year in jail.

The legislation passed 27-2 and has support from veterans who spoke out during the legislature meetings.

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