Hate Group Plans to Picket Brianna Service - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Hate Group Plans to Picket Brianna Service

Posted:
Brandon Rittiman
Channel 2 News

The Westboro Baptist Church, categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, plans to picket 19-year-old murder victim Brianna Denison's funeral.

After considerable discussion and debate among the staff in this newsroom, we decided to cover this story. We know this group seeks attention through their actions, and felt the very nature of their actions garner attention with or without our coverage. Channel 2 News received numerous complaints and concerned emails about this scheduled picket and opted to let you know what's going on.

On the group's web site, www.godhatesfags.com - you will find a press release where they call Reno an "evil place."

The group regularly protests soldiers' funerals, claiming that God wants them to die for defending America, a country this Topeka, Kansas group feels wrongly puts itself above God for allowing homosexuality.

That's what a handful of WBC members were doing in Reno at Army Staff Sergeant Sean Gaul's funeral when a group of bikers called the Patriot Guard Riders showed up in huge numbers.

This video on youtube.com, titled "God Hates Reno" (click here), purports to be a news story, showing confrontation between the bikers and WBC members. There appears to be a struggle, but no identifiable assault. The video is believed by some to be made by WBC, with Reno apparently lacking a journalist by the name "Frank Douglas" and a news organization that simply calls itself "News."

In a press release, (click here for PDF file), WBC claims it's picketing Brianna's memorial service Saturday because the Reno police supported the bikers' actions.

Asking around in downtown Reno, we heard strong reaction.

One man told us this puts the WBC "on the same level as the murderer."

"I lose sleep over this group," adds Joe Taylor, Senior Pastor of the South Reno Baptist Church, "it hurts me that they have the word 'Baptist' in their title. It hurts me more that they have the word 'church.' "

Reno police will be at the service Saturday to keep an eye on things. The bikers and others plan to drown out WBC like they did for Sean Gaul's service.

"I think the bikers are very wise in not being violent," adds Taylor, "if they beat up one of them, I think it would draw the wrong kind of attention. We'd make martyrs of nut cases."

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