- The Washington Times - Monday, April 22, 2013

Roughly 200 local Teamsters gathered Monday at a Boston-area church to block picketers from Westboro Baptist Church from disrupting the funeral of Boston bombing victim Krystle Campbell.

Members of Teamsters Local 25 arrived at Miss Campbell’s 11 a.m. funeral Mass at Medford St. Joseph Church, forming a human shield to block potential protesters from getting too close to the service, Boston.com reported.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Sean O’Brien, president and principal officer of Teamster’s local. He said the organization got involved once members of the community outraged at Westboro’s threat to picket the funeral contacted the union for help.

“The family deserves a peaceful grieving process that’s free from any coward-led group,” he said.

Mr. O’Brien said about 350 members were expected but 1,000 are available if needed.

Members of Westboro, the Kansas-based church best known for controversial demonstrations outside military funerals, had vowed to protest the funerals of all the victims of last week’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, proclaiming via Twitter that the deaths were God’s will and punishment for gay marriage.

In a message to members put out Sunday, the Teamsters hinted at taking similar action if the church tried to picket other funerals of Marathon bombing victims.

“Westboro Baptist Church should understand that we will go to great lengths to make sure they don’t protest any funerals of the victims of the past week’s tragedies, and that those we lost receive a proper burial,” the group said in a statement, according to Boston.com.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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