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Human shield formed at Krystle Campbell funeral to block potential protesters

Posted by Marcia Dick  April 22, 2013 11:38 AM

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AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Devon Morancie of Littleton wears a flag on his back as a crowd gathers outside the funeral for Boston Marathon bomb victim Krystle Campbell, 29, at St. Joseph's Church in Medford.

Hundreds gathered on the sidewalk across from the funeral of Krystle Campbell Monday to block a possible protest by the radical Westboro Baptist Church.

Organized by the Local Teamsters, the crowd formed a human shield, covering the sidewalk across from the church over 100 yards along High Street west of Boynton Road, starting before 9 a.m. There was never any sign of members of the churches protesters. Medford police had plain clothes officers combing the crowd, which remained calm and orderly through the morning. While the blocking of possible protests was organized by the Teamsters, it drew many people without union ties.

Derek Lofstrom, 33, of Winchester said he learned protesters would possibly be at the funeral through his Facebook feed, and immediately decided he would help block them. He climbed a tree in a yard across from the church to help hang a large American flag Monday.

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Jarret Bencks

Derek Lofstrom climbs a tree to hang a flag.

"I felt it was kind of my civic duty to come out," he said. "There's no way in hell I wasn't going to."

Mary Mackey, 25, and Charlie Sanphy, 27, drove from Nahant to join the crowd in Medford, not because they're in a union, but to object to the protesters.

The Kansas church is a fringe religious organization whose members stage protests at high-profile funeral services to draw attention to their views. No church members were visible in Medford.

"They shouldn't be protesting funerals," Mackey said of the Westboro Baptist Church. "I'm here to stand up to them. I don't like people who spew hate. I'm also here to support this family."

Gary Lewis, 56, of Reading, stood at the corner of High Street and Boynton Road Monday morning, wearing his leather jacket with a US Marine Corps insignia on the back.

"I want this family to have some peace and mourn without putting up with the [protesters]," he said. "I hope try get the respect they deserve."

Also in the crowd were six off-duty Everett Firefighters, Tom Quigley, Jim Neary, Michael Columeta, Scott Dalry, Kevin Leary, and William Hurley were among those covering the sidewalk Monday morning.

"It's a tragedy," Quigley said. "We wanted to show our support for the family, and make sure everything went OK."

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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