POSTED: Monday, October 10, 2011 - 6:12pm
UPDATED: Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 10:51am
EL PASO – Hundreds of supporters lined the streets outside of a funeral for a fallen Marine to protect his family from protesters who said they would be there Monday morning.
Word quickly spread on Facebook that the Westboro Baptist Church from Kansas planned to protest outside the funeral for Sgt. Christopher Diaz, who was killed last month in Afghanistan.
In the end the protesters didn't show up, but the crowd of supporters said they were ready in case that happened. Hundreds of military members, veterans, Army wives, and Patriot Guard Riders lined the streets outside of St. Mark's Church and Ft. Bliss National Cemetery.
"Right now I have goose bumps on my arms,” said Darryl Bucher, a veteran who served in the military for 25 years. “This is amazing. This shows that people care about their country."
Most of the supporters carried an American Flag, others held signs in support of our troops. Some broke down in tears as the hearse carrying Diaz's body passed by and drove into the cemetery.
“I can't imagine if my husband was the one in there,” said Adrianne Teats. Her husband is deployed in Afghanistan. “I would want people to come out like this and support him.”
There were rumors that some members of the Westboro Church were spotted in a park down the street from St. Mark's Church where the funeral was held. NewsChannel 9 didn't see any at the church or the cemetery.
“I think they got scared,” said Salita Hudson, who showed up to support Diaz's family. “They were here in 2007 and we scared them off then and they haven't shown their faces yet.”
The Westboro Baptist Church organizes protests at military funerals across the country holding signs that say things like “God hates fags” and “Thank God for IEDs.”
"They're cowards. They're afraid of what would happen if they see all these people supporting the troops. It would have gotten ugly,” said Teats, who was thankful the protesters didn't show up at the funeral.
Sgt. Diaz was from Albuquerque. His family lives in El Paso.