Office of the Attorney General
Funeral Protestors Subject to Arrest Warns Attorney General Greg Stumbo

Press Release Date:  Thursday, February 08, 2007  
Contact Information:  Vicki Glass, 502-696-5643 Office  

Attorney General Greg Stumbo today advised law enforcement officials that funeral protestors are subject to arrest if they interfere with the funeral of ten family members who perished in a house fire in Bardstown on Tuesday. The group from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas has protested at military funerals across the country and is expected to demonstrate in Bardstown on the day of the funeral.

“We are united in grieving for this family and community,” said Attorney General Stumbo. “The law provides protections against disorderly conduct and forbids interference with funerals.”

In September, 2006, U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell ruled that peaceful funeral protests must be allowed to continue and barred enforcement of a new law restricting protest activity. At that time, Attorney General Stumbo drafted and sent an advisory to state law enforcement agencies explaining how to enforce remaining laws to preserve order at military funerals where the Kansas-based group had been staging anti-gay protests.

Today Stumbo advised Bardstown law enforcement officials and the Kentucky State Police that, by law, no person may block access to any funeral, engage in violent or threatening behavior, make unreasonable noise or create any other hazardous or offensive condition within 300 feet of a funeral home, memorial service or cemetery during a funeral or burial.

“Local law enforcement officials are struggling to abide by the federal court ruling while maintaining law and order,” said Attorney General Stumbo. “It is critical that the rights of grieving families and communities are protected. As chief law officer, I felt it important that I re-issue this advisory immediately to aid local law enforcement as they serve their communities.”

The Attorney General’s advisory was sent to the Bardstown Police Department, the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department and the Commissioner of the Kentucky State Police.

Click here to view the advisory.