Reporting from Tucson — An extremist church has agreed not to protest outside the funerals of Christina Taylor Green and Judge John M. Roll in exchange for airtime on two radio stations.
Margie Phelps, a lawyer for the Westboro Baptist Church, said the decision was not based on outside pressure but rather on how much publicity the church could receive.
"It's how many ears we can reach," she said. "That is our job, that is our goal."
The Kansas congregation is known for demonstrating at the funerals of U.S. soldiers, arguing that their deaths are retribution by God for America's acceptance of homosexuality. The group announced it would protest at the funeral of 9-year-old shooting victim Christina Green, scheduled for Thursday, because her family was Catholic, and at Roll's funeral, scheduled for Friday, because he was a federal judge and the church felt his colleagues on the bench had acted against the church.
They also had planned to picket at the shopping center where Saturday's deadly rampage took place.
Arizonans immediately condemned the planned protests, with the Legislature passing emergency measures to prohibit protests within 300 feet of any funeral services and hundreds of Tucson residents making plans to physically shield the victims' families from seeing the protesters.