Is the Westboro Baptist Church losing its edge? The controversial group, which calls itself a house of worship but is regarded by most as a small, family-led cult, originally planned to protest the funeral of Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale. But, the situation ended with a surprise -- some might even say inspirational -- conclusion.
Last week, Tisdale, a former Texas A&M University student, was killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Fox10TV.com has more about the incident that inevitably took his life:
Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale, a former Texas A&M University student, was buried in the Aggie Field of Honor, an area of a College Station cemetery for Aggies and their supporters.
Tisdale was fatally wounded on June 28 during a safety briefing near the unit's headquarters in the historic district of Fort Bragg at about 3:30 p.m., according to Fort Bragg officials.
Accused of the shooting was Spc. Ricky G. Elder of Kansas, who shot Tisdale and another soldier, who survived. Elder then shot himself and later died.
Despite the group's press release exploiting Tisdale's death and pledging to crash the memorial in College Station, Texas, the situation concluded with a very different outcome than was originally expected.
After news initially spread that the group, headed by ringleader Fred Phelps, was planning to protest and attend, former and current Texas A&M students took action. BuzzFeed has more about the counter-protest that they carried out against the Phelps family:
A fellow "Aggie", Ryan Slezia, came up with a plan to create a human wall to block any protesters from getting near the funeral, and invited fellow Texas A&M students and alum to join. One participant tweeted that over 650 people showed up in maroon shirts to create a "maroon wall".
Now, here's the kicker and the "different" outcome: To the surprise of Tisdale's family members, friends and others who had organized a massive counter-protest, the radicals failed to show up. That's right -- Westboro adherents were reportedly nowhere to be found.
Did the counter-protesters scare them away? It's entirely possible.
Radio host Joe Pags spoke with Tisdale's life-long friend Shawn Dixon about the fallen soldier and the plan that was launched to stop Westboro from ruining his funeral (the event is not listed on Westboro's picket schedule page).
Listen to the interview, below:
There's nothing new about Westboro going after soldiers and military families. In fact, the radical group's bizarre protests against these fallen men and women resulted in a 2011 Supreme Court ruling in their favor (the justices ruled 8-1 that their actions are protected by the First Amendment).