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Brown OKs ban on protests near funerals

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday to bar protests near funerals, prevent future accounting scandals and provide some legal amnesty to people seeking medical help for drug overdoses.

The measure protecting funerals says protesters on public property must be at least 300 feet from the burial site. Violators could be fined $1,000 or jailed for six months.

The restrictions are a response to protests by the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, whose members have picketed military funerals to say the death of soldiers is punishment for the country’s tolerance of homosexuality. They carry signs with slogans such as, “Thank God for dead soldiers.”

“We’ve all been disgusted by hateful protests at military funerals, and that should now be reduced or stopped,” said Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), the bill’s author.

Brown vetoed similar legislation last year because the U.S. Supreme Court said protesters were protected by the 1st Amendment. Lieu reintroduced the proposal, SB 661, this year with a buffer zone of 300 feet instead of 1,000, which mirrored limits enacted by President Obama in August.

The story was originally posted on the website for the LA Times.

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