RALEIGH, N.C. — Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., known for picketing outside military funerals, brought a small group to picket near the funeral service for Elizabeth Edwards Saturday, but they were far outnumbered by a group that organized a counterprotest in support of "promoting proper respect for funerals."
As the Edwards funeral began, three adults and two children from the Westboro church were on one side of Edenton Street, holding signs denigrating Edwards.
On the other side of the street, in front of the Justice Department building, several hundred counterprotesters gathered in the drizzle. Signs in the crowd said, "God loves Elizabeth Edwards," and others, in pink, said simply, "Hope" and "Hero."
The crowd supporting Edwards sang Christmas carols, the National Anthem and "Lean on Me," the Bill Withers classic. Other supporters circled the block in cars, playing country music as the crowd cheered.
Some supporters brought American flag umbrellas to pass out to the crowd, and one man brought a poster-making kit.
Among the Edwards supporters was Bob Krasnicka, who came from Wake Forest to help.
"I'm sick of hearing about these people going to funerals and spreading their hate," said Krasnicka, 48, referring to the Westboro protesters. Of Edwards, he said, "I know she has young children who don't need to be seeing this kind of hate."
Edwards, 61, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. Her husband was the Democrats' 2004 vice presidential candidate and made a failed bid for the presidency in 2008. The couple separated after John Edwards fathered a child with his mistress.
Read more coverage of the funeral at newsobserver.com