Students from Texas A&M University formed a human wall this week to protect the family of the dead Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale from protestors of the Westboro Baptist Church.
Tisdale, an alumnus of Texas A&M University, had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was killed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina on June 28 by a fellow soldier Spc. Ricky G. Elder of Kansas, who in turn shot himself.
Tisdale's funeral was to be held Thursday at the Aggie Field of Honor, a cemetery for Aggies and their supporters at college station, Texas. But the members of the Westboro Baptist Church, which is widely known as a hate-group, were planning to protest Tisdale's funeral.
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The church is known for picketing funerals of American servicemen and has followed extreme ideologies mainly against homosexuality. The group, based in Kansas, believes that "God punishes soldiers because of America's tolerance of gays," reports KBTX.com. The church members had announced on their website that they would be protesting the funeral of Tisdale.
However, a former Texas A&M student named Ryan Slezia devised a plan to block the church's protest and protect Tisdale's family and allow them to perform his funeral in a peaceful manner.
He invited all supporters on Facebook to wear maroon and join him in the peaceful protest. "In response to their signs of hate, we will wear maroon. In response to their mob anger, we will form a line, arm in arm. This is a silent vigil. A manifestation of our solidarity," he wrote on Facebook.
More than 600 supporters including current Texas A&M students, alumni and faculty members joined the maroon wall surrounding the church's entrance in order to block the Westboro Baptist Church protestors. "We are standing here quietly. We are here for the family," KBTX.com quoted Lilly McAlister, a Texas A&M student as saying.
"We are positioned with our backs to them. Everyone has been told there's no chanting, no singing, there's no yelling anything back," she added.
Luckily for the supporters and Tisdale's family, the Westboro Baptist Church members didn't turn up at the church. Tisdale's body was finally laid to rest without any incident.