While protesting at funerals is generally considered offensive and unacceptable, it wasn’t illegal in the City of Florissant until this week, when Mayor Tom Schneider signed ordinance 7944 into law.
“City Council unanimously passed bill 9983 to prohibit funeral protest activities within 300 feet of any residence, cemetery, funeral home, church, or any other establishment during or within one hour before of one hour after the conducting of any actual funeral or burial service at that place,” the Mayor’s office said in a press release.
“The Mayor had asked City Attorney John Hessel to monitor similar legislation in another community that was under challenge and he recently reported that an appellate court upheld the legality of banning funeral protest including military funeral protest.”
Mayor Schneider added that he and the council believe that it’s in the best interest of “active military, emergency responders, veterans and all citizens of Florissant to adopt the principles set forth in the Appellate opinion by adopting this ordinance that regulates picketing and other protest activities at funeral ceremonies.”
Because mourners at a funeral ceremony have no way to avoid protestors since they must be in a certain place at a certain time, an Appellate Court recently held that “although protesters have a right to express their opinions on a matter of public concern, an ordinance prohibiting picketing at funerals is constitutional because mourners have a right to protect the dignity of the service and the privacy of the family members as they memorialize and grieve for their dead.”
That’s why the Florissant Code of Ordinances, Chapter 210, Article XIV, will be amended by adding a new section 210.625, the Mayor’s office said.
The new section reads as follows:
(a) Every citizen may freely speak, write and publish the person’s sentiment on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of the right, but no person shall picket or engage in other protest activities, nor shall any association or corporation cause picketing or other protest activities to occur within three hundred (300) feet of any residence, cemetery, funeral home, church, synagogue, or other establishment during or within one (1) hour before or one (1) hour after the conducting of any actual funeral or burial service at that place. (b) As used in this Section, “other protest activities” means any action that is disruptive or undertaken to disrupt or disturb a funeral or burial service. (c) As used in this Section, “funeral” and “burial service” mean the ceremonies and memorial services held in conjunction with the burial or cremation of the dead, but Section does not apply to processions they are in transit beyond any three hundred (300) feet zone that is established under Subsection (a) above.
How do you feel about the new law? Should people be allowed to protest at funerals? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.