Protesters fail to show at Louisiana shooting victims' funerals

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 27, 2015 5:36 PM

(Reuters) - Members of a Kansas-based fundamentalist Christian church who threatened to stage protests at the funerals of two women fatally shot in a Louisiana movie theater failed to show up on Monday, according to local news reports and social media.

The funeral for Mayci Breaux, a 21-year-old student, occurred quietly and with no protests at the Church of the Assumption in her hometown of Franklin, according to Twitter messages posted by a reporter for WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Breaux was studying at a Louisiana college to become an ultrasound and radiology technician.

Franklin is about 50 miles southeast of Lafayette, where a gunman identified by police as John Houser, 59, opened fire during a Thursday showing of the comedy "Trainwreck," killing the two women and wounding several other people before turning the gun on himself.

Services for Jillian Johnson, a 33-year-old musician and gift shop owner, were held at a Lafayette memorial home but no protesters were in sight, according to WGMB-TV in Baton Rouge.

People associated with Westboro Baptist Church indicated on Twitter they would picket the funerals to protest gay rights, as they have done at other high-profile funerals.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order on Saturday directing police to enforce state laws against disturbing the peace at funerals.

Jindal's order was in response to the planned Westboro Baptist Church protests, his spokesman said, and the governor reiterated on Sunday his intent to have the church members arrested if they protested at the funerals.

Westboro members often show up at funerals holding signs with anti-gay slurs, saying tragedies such as the theater shooting are the result of God's anger over homosexuality.

"They better not try that nonsense here," Jindal said on the CBS program "Face the Nation."

On Monday, the church members pressed their Twitter criticism of Jindal, using the hashtag "godsenttheshooter!" in Tweets about the governor.

A Lafayette group promised to form a human barricade at the Johnson service, but posts on the page indicated no protesters showed up.

On Sunday, the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union cautioned Jindal against issuing orders that potentially could be used to infringe on protesters' constitutional free-speech rights.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Frank McGurty)