Beebe Police Preparing for Protests at Soldier's Funeral Today

JUNE 7, 2006 - Posted at 7:52 a.m. CST

BEEBE, AR - The Beebe Police Department is preparing for protestors planning to gather outside the funeral of an Arkansas soldier killed last month by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, are expected to picket outside the funeral today of Army Specialist Bobby R. West, who was killed May 30.

The protestors claim that U.S. soldiers are dying because God is punishing America for tolerating homosexuality.  The same group protested at the funeral of a soldier in Pocahontas last year. A counter-protest group, the Patriot Guard Riders, is also to be there.  The motorcyclists have been attending military funerals to pay respects and protect the families from protestors' disruptions.

West's aunt, Margie Liddle, says the family is aware there would be protestors.  She says it is obvious how the family feels about her nephew's death and that the family just wants to grieve.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)