You may have heard of Freedom riders or Patriot Guard Riders. They are a group of motorcycle riders that go to military funerals to shield mourners from protesters.
Most of the time, the Freedom Riders are protecting and sheilding families from the Westboro Baptist Church Protesters, which is an organization that was formed by a preacher Fred Phelps. The Westboro Baptist Church Protesters believe that the deaths of soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq were and are caused by America’s tolerance of homosexuality. They claim that the demise of these war heroes is God’s punishment.
In addition to protesting at military funerals, the Westboro group goes to political gatherings and commencement ceremonies, flashing their signs and shouting their slogans. They travel all around the country to picket at funerals, disrupting the ceremonies and harassing the bereaved.
The Freedom Riders began attending funerals as a response to the Westboro Baptist Church protests. The Riders attend funerals to protect the family, friends and dignity of the fallen soldier during their greiving time and for the funeral process.
The Freedom Riders physically block out the view and noise of the protesters by revving the engines of their motorcycles, singing patriotic pieces and holding/raising American flags.
Although generally speaking, the Riders believe in freedom of speech, they disagree with the protests, as a funeral is not the right place to make their religious statement. This group is based on the belief that a fallen soldiers deservs to be recognized and honored for their sacrifices and that the protests conducted by Phelps and his church are tarnishing the memories of these heroes.
This shared belief is the reason why the Patriot Guard Riders came to be. Nowadays, the group not only attends funerals but also welcomes returning troops, does volunteer work at veteran homes, and visits wounded service members of the armed forces.