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'Angels' blocked anti-gay protesters from Orlando shooting victim's burial

Funerals for two of the 49 Orlando massacre victims took place amid anti-gay protesters and an impatient driver who cut through a funeral procession, injuring two deputies.

by VICE News
Jun 19 2016, 4:45pm

Protestantes vestidos como ángeles muestran su apoyo y solidaridad bloqueando a manifestantes homófobos, 18 de junio 2016, Orlando, Florida. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Funerals for two of the 49 Orlando massacre victims took place amid anti-gay protesters and an impatient driver who cut through a funeral procession, injuring two deputies.

The four anti-gay protesters were from the homophobic Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church. They raised signs with anti-gay slogans outside the Cathedral Church of St. Luke, where services took place for Christopher Leinonen, who was one of those killed in the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Police formed a line between the Westboro protesters and the hundreds of funeral attendees, who included members of the LGBTQ community, priests, bikers, and locals.

The crowd cheered when members of Orlando's Shakespeare Theater wearing huge "angel wings" showed up to block out the Westboro protesters.

The wings, which measured eight feet across and rose three feet above their shoulders, were made of white cloth and plastic piping. Reuters reported that the wings first surfaced at the 1998 funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay student who was brutally murdered in Wyoming.

Hundreds of counter-protesters sang "Amazing Grace" in response to the Westboro group.

During the funeral procession for Jean Carlos Mendez in Kissimee, Florida, about 20 miles south of Orlando, a driver became impatient and cut through the procession, injuring two sheriff's deputies on motorcycles.

In Photos: A Vigil at New York's Historic Stonewall Inn to Remember the Victims of the Orlando Massacre

The mass shooting, which took place a week ago, killed 49 and injured scores more. On Saturday evening in Berlin, more than a thousand people attended a candle-lit vigil to show solidarity with the victims of the attack, their families, and the wider LGBT community. The Brandenburg Gate was lit up in rainbow colors.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch condemned last week's mass shooting as "an act of terror and an act of hate," echoing the line used by President Barack Obama and others, and thereby acknowledging that when the gunman targeted a gay nightclub, he was targeting the LGBT community at large.

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