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August 28th, 2010
11:01 PM ET

Man fires pepper spray on church protesters outside Marine's funeral

A motorist fired pepper spray Saturday at a group of demonstrators and counter-protesters outside a funeral for a U.S. Marine in Omaha, Nebraska, police said.

The incident occurred shortly before 10 a.m. (11 a.m. ET) as members of a small Kansas church that protests at military funerals and counter-protesters stood nearly a block away from First United Methodist Church during services for Staff Sgt. Michael Bock, 26, who died August 13 in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

A man in a Ford-150 pickup truck drove by, extended his arm and sprayed with a large can, police said. His vehicle was stopped a few minutes later.

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Homosexuality • Nebraska • United States

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Jamie

    I have to smile knowing these crude horrible people will have to face my creater and be judged! I am glad I do not have to stand in their shoes. ( I cant say for sure but I bet their feet feel a little warm )

    August 30, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
    • Jay

      You are right Jamie. I think people need to understand that before it's to late.

      September 1, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  2. Marine Joe

    I only wish two things....

    1. He was a better shot and only hit the protesters
    2. He sprayed them with bullets instead of pepper spray

    August 30, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  3. Mark from Middle River

    "Pepper spray is a weapon. There are rules for using weapons in this country unless you're in law enforcement.
    If someone is unduly prov0ked, that can sometimes be a defense in court. "

    There are rules to using it if you are law enforcement officer also.

    That being said ... I know the f150 model truck ... this guy could have done a whole heck of a lot worst with the front bumper of his truck and the full frame which would make the protesters thankful he just used pepper spray.

    August 29, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
  4. David Johnson

    The article said: "It was unclear Saturday evening exactly who had been pepper sprayed, but a Westboro member said no one in her group was affected."

    It should be explained to the attacker, that a job worth doing...Never mind.

    August 29, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
    • Kate

      @David Johnson

      More like the article makes it obvious the driver wasn't in the military, but rather was a citizen willing to take a stand – a Marine wouldn't have missed.

      Just sayin'

      August 29, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Kate

      You said, "Kate

      @David Johnson

      More like the article makes it obvious the driver wasn't in the military, but rather was a citizen willing to take a stand – a Marine wouldn't have missed."

      Sometimes you tickle me Kate! I'm always happy to see your comments!

      August 30, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  5. Crystal

    As tempting as it is to want to injure or lash out at Fred Phelps' group, WE MUST NOT. First, it funds their horrid work. You hit them, they sue you, they use YOUR money to print the signs they hold at military funerals and use YOUR money to travel to funerals of people killed by gay bashers.

    Secondly, the jokes about the water cannon training are just the wrong thing to say in these situations. If freedom of speech only applies to speech that is acceptable to everyone, then we don't have freedom of speech. These Phelps morons must be allowed freedom of speech. And we can use our own freedom of speech to counteract their idiotic talk and show support to the families of the dead.

    August 29, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Crystal: Absolutely. Freedom of speech should not be infringed. Also while their actions are reprehensible, we should not respond to their cruelty with cruelty ourselves. It only brings us down to their level...

      August 30, 2010 at 11:23 am |
    • Jesse

      So I suppose you believe that it's okay to yell fire in a public building. These lunatics are trying to incense people and are creating the potential for harm. They are using their rights to abuse the rights of innocent others they have no right to do that. The people they assault with their hateful speech have done nothing to wrong them, so they have no right to fain recourse. Notice there protest is against the dead and greiving. The weak, people who are unprepared for such great evil. If these people meant what they say they would protest against people who created the situation they claim so offends them. But you don't see them at congress, the white house, the pentagon, or any other place in the national or state capitals. Because they don't have the guts they are cowards and bullys and deserve what they get.

      August 30, 2010 at 11:39 am |
    • insertnamehere

      Unfortunately, the go-to analogy for restricting of freedom of speech is the "fire in crowded movie theatre" argument is way overplayed and completely inaccurate. It is a public safety hazard to incite panic–a hundred people all rushing for an exit can cause injury, protesting something generally does not unless you get some yahoo who can not reign in their anger. Inciting public panic is not only underhanded, but is very dangerous and is not covered under your first ammendment rights, like you can't go around slandering people. (The conservatives get away with inciting public panic what with the "death panels" and the rumors about our President's heritage/religious background, but we don't say too much and that is neither here nor there) As disgusting as Fred Phelp's views may be to me, he has a right to make his statements. You start infringing on one group's rights it becomes a slippery slope that may end up with your right to disagree being taken away, and any statements of dissent end you up in prison.

      That being said, I disagree with everything Fred Phelps says. The man is completely backwards, completely off his rocker. And no matter how much I disagree with the whole war situation, a funeral is not the time nor place for their insanity.

      August 30, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  6. zomglo

    Where's the Hell's Angles when you need them?

    August 29, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  7. Yank

    If I had a funeral, I hope they hand out little bottles of pepper spray.
    And silly string. Don't forget the silly string.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  8. William

    Remember the scene in the movie "Airplane" when Robert Stack was walking through the airport and punching/knocking out every church wacko asking him to become a member of or to donate to their cause? Where's Robert Stack when you need him...

    August 29, 2010 at 11:37 am |
    • Kate

      @William

      I'm more wondering where are all the Christians to denounce the group – 1600+ comments debating if a Mormon is a Christian on the Beck thread, but only 21 comments here (kudos to those who've posted in support of our fallen heroes and against these crazies though).

      Must be a Baptist thing.

      Just sayin'

      August 29, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  9. Light of Truth

    In an effort to promote Peace and Goodwill, I hope that very soon people from all over the world will finally come to the most logical conclusion that religions of man's design create and inspire some of the worst and most violent behavior known to mankind. It is not through religion that humanity will thrive and prosper but by education and intellect along with a very real and natural adherence to spiritual wisdom. The kind of wisdom that only comes naturally from the spirit within not from the teachings of others whether they be past or present, old or new.

    August 29, 2010 at 8:16 am |
    • Kevin

      You can't blame religion for all evil in the world. Ever heard of Communism? 10's of millions of people died because of it just in the twentieth century. Just look at the history of the Soviet Union, Red China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia just to name a few. Millions of people or even more were killed by communist regimes in those countries. Those regimes committed acts of great evil and according to communist doctrine, they had no religion whatsoever.

      August 29, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • Kevin

      Releigions generally tell people to do good and not to harm others. People don't always obey their religion so you can't really blame religion itself for the actions of individuals. People can choose to obey or disobey God. That is why there is a concept of sin.

      August 29, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Kevin

      You said, "You can't blame religion for all evil in the world."

      Christopher Hitchen believes, "Religion poisons everything". I find no reason to disagree.

      August 30, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  10. Kevin

    Serves 'em right. It's really crude to disrupt someone's funeral. The family is already grieving for someone they love. Protests? What kind of people would protest at a funeral. What a bunch of jerks for making that family's pain worse!

    August 29, 2010 at 6:42 am |
  11. Jaded

    Pepper spray is a weapon. There are rules for using weapons in this country unless you're in law enforcement.
    If someone is unduly prov0ked, that can sometimes be a defense in court. lol
    Then again, cops don't like to see citizens exercising their personal freedoms in imitation of law enforcement. Nosiree, they do not...!

    August 29, 2010 at 5:38 am |
    • Jesse

      Are you saying there are no rules for law enforcement? And while there may be rules for using pepper spray, most police are former military and while it says this gentlemen was stopped it doesn't say he was arrested or charged. They may have stopped hime to examine the can and determine that he knew how to use it and whether or not he needed a refill. Or maybe to shake his hand and see if he needed a police escort through the obviously dangerous protesters.

      August 30, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  12. jeff

    I respect anyone expressing an opinion but protesting a fallen military member doing his/her country's bidding is so wrong on so many levels. I wish more people would stand up to the crazy religious right like Phelp's.

    August 29, 2010 at 5:18 am |
  13. Bill K

    Notice that the article didn't say Fred Phelps's group? Doesn't have to be said. I can't understand what has happened to this country in such a short amount of time where any group even claiming to be "Christian" would be so cold-hearted as to protest a military funeral just to get a clearly political message across. I guess it's all boiling down to "I've got a lawyer and I know how to use them to get what I want, when I want, and how I want, regardless of whether you like it or not!"

    August 29, 2010 at 4:19 am |
  14. Steve

    Good for him! This soldier gave his life for our country. I am disgusted by this so called religous group. Maybe God can send a localized flood and just wash these imbeciles away.

    August 29, 2010 at 1:34 am |
  15. A Vet

    Seriously, sounds like the local fire department needs to schedule some water cannon training in the areas near these SACRED events. Let the public no ahead of time so no one is stupid enough to assemble anywhere near there. This would all be in the interest of public safety of course.

    August 29, 2010 at 1:22 am |
    • Kate

      @A Vet

      Wouldn't help really.

      If you see these crazies up close, you notice one thing right away – everything they do looks designed to provoke. I've seen them dancing and laughing in glee at reducing some hapless bystander to tears with the stuff they'll shout out, and it felt to me like they were simply goading people in the hopes someone would take a swing at them.

      And a lot of ol' Freddie Krug ... erm, Phelps' clan are lawyers.

      I'm not saying they're just doing it in the hopes they can sue someone, or threaten to unless the victim pays up, no matter what the rumors about ol' Freddie beating his kids with pickaxe handles would imply about their ethics and morals.

      Remember the old saw " The best weapon to use on a lawyer is another lawyer"? Either way, they'll answer for their arrogance in the hereafter.

      August 29, 2010 at 1:34 am |
  16. Kate

    As an aside, those of you who would like to show honor and respects to our fallen heroes, the Patriot Guard Riders are in all states. Check out http://www.patriotguard.org for more information.

    Remember, you don't have to be a vet, and your politics are irrelevant – it's simply a way to honor those who have fallen, with respect and dignity.

    Just sayin'

    August 29, 2010 at 1:12 am |
  17. A Vet

    Obviously this man was enjoying his freedom of expression (a right which has implied protection under the freedom of speech). Clearly he expressed himself by honoring our fallen with a lovely crimson display of pepper spray. Perhaps his brand of expression will be replicated outside the funerals of other fallen heroes. He should be carful though, I understand pepper spray can be a tad irritating to eyes and nasal membranes

    August 29, 2010 at 1:00 am |
  18. Ryan

    Semper Fi my friend. If you need a pro-bono lawyer, give me a call.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:36 am |
  19. Kate

    Oorah!

    Just sayin'

    August 29, 2010 at 12:27 am |
    • waggen

      Ewwwraaa! indeed

      August 29, 2010 at 3:40 am |
  20. student

    I see no problem with that. The motorist was obviously scared by the protesters and their combative stance towards the funeral and sympathizers to the fallen warrior. So he took it upon himself to restrain the violent and abusive citizens...perfect defense haha

    August 28, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
    • cheryl

      i would have bought him a can to do it for me!!

      August 30, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.