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Orlando Theater Community Crafts Angel Wings to Block Westboro Baptist Church

Angels in Action
AP Photo/John Raoux

The artful and inspiring counter-protest serves a vital purpose: allowing mourners to grieve in peace and privacy.

In a peaceful, emotional, and effective show of solidarity, the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre and other members of the community have followed in the footsteps of Romaine Patterson and Angel Action Wings to shield Orlando mourners from homophobic Westboro Baptist Church protesters outside the funeral for one of the victims.

On Saturday, during the funeral of Pulse shooting victim Drew Leinonen, the angels stood in a row to shield attendees from the signs held by a small group of fundamentalists.

"This is in support of the fallen and the families of the fallen," said Jim Helsinger, the Shakespeare Theater's artistic director told the Miami Herald. "We didn't know that anyone would protest the funerals here in Orlando, but that is now happening, so a counter-protest so that people that are attending those funerals and those that are in mourning don't have to deal with hate is an important thing."

Beginning in 1999 when anti-gay protesters picketed the trials of Matthew Shepard's killers in Laramie, WY, the angel wings provide a shield and modicum of privacy with large white sheets that block the view of protesters. The angel wings have appeared at many events, funerals and demonstrations over the years, and there is even a guide online for how to construct them.

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