Police say they're prepared should members of a church known for staging protests at military funerals attend the Monday funeral a Waseca Marine.
Cpl. Caleb Erickson was killed Feb. 28 while on patrol in Afghanistan.
Westboro Baptist Church, a Topeka, Kan., based-church known for protesting at funerals across the country, is encouraging its followers to attend Erickson's funeral.
Church members believe that God is repaying America for its tolerance of homosexuality by killing members of the U.S. military and use the protests to spread their message. Westboro Baptist been described as a hate group and is monitored as such by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League.
According to a press release on the church's website, "God hates America and is killing our troops in his wrath. Military funerals have become pagan orgies of idolatrous blasphemy, where they pray to the dunghill gods of Sodom & play taps to a fallen fool."
Waseca Police Cpt. Kris Markeson wouldn't go into details, but said the department has a plan in place should Westboro members show up. He said that he's research applicable laws dealing with free speech and protests at military funerals and that officers plan to strictly enforce those rules.
"We will be very heavily staffed on Monday," he said.
Members of the Patriot Guard will attend the funeral, Markeson said. The guard, according to its website, "ensures dignity and respect at memorial services honoring fallen military heroes, first responders and honorably discharged veterans."
Should Westboro Baptist Church members come to Waseca, Markeson urges residents not to engage them.
"We don't want our people, our local people to confront them," he said. "People should focus on the sacrifice that Cpl. Erickson has made. Don't give them any attention. That's what they're trying to draw."
Reach Regional Managing Editor Suzanne Rook at 507-931-8567. Follow her on Twitter @rooksuzy