Possible protest at memorial for fallen firefighters

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- It was a moving moment Monday when the 19 firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire were driven to the medical examiner's office in Phoenix.

As the community was trying to understand what happened to these men, social media erupted over the possibility of the Westboro Baptist Church picketing the memorial service Tuesday.

Andrea Ramey was friends with some of the Granite Mountain Hotshots killed Sunday.

"There have been supposed sightings in town of protesters and again we just want them to know, respect our pain and respect the grieving process for the whole community and stay away."

It's appalling to Ramey that these picketers, who claim homosexuality is the reason Americans are dying, would show up at the memorial service.

"We are prepared to shield the families at the funerals with a human shield as we did last night at the candlelight vigil," Ramey said. "We are going to make sure they have their privacy and that they are going to be respected and grieve privately without any interruptions and without disrespect."

Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs and House Speaker Andy Tobin sent out this statement about those plans to protest that reads:

"Arizona is in a deep state of mourning over the loss of 19 of the finest young men ever to serve as emergency first responders. It is unthinkable that any group would choose to maliciously insert themselves into the narrative of this tragedy as family members of the fallen, the community, the people of our state and the entire nation are collectively attempting to heal from this loss.

"As an initial remedy to this, it would be a show of great solidarity with the fallen and their families if all leaders of American faith communities would openly repudiate any plan to disrupt the laying to rest of these fallen heroes. Despite the potential any one group or individual may have to taint this time of solemnity, reflection and prayer, the overwhelming support for the fallen and the affected communities is what will truly be remembered during this painful period in Arizona's history.

"Words cannot express the gratitude we feel for those whom [sic] have dedicated their time, efforts and prayers to the recovery and consolation of those most affected by this horrible event. Those works truly embody the genuine greatness that defines our community and our nation as one that perseveres and comes together in times of adversity."

Ramey is begging the protesters to, "Please, please respect the pain that these families are in, that this community is going through and please stay away."

According to Arizona law, it's illegal to protest within 300 feet of a funeral.