CNN Wire Staff
Tucson, Arizona (CNN) - The Arizona legislature is expected to pass legislation Tuesday targeting a Kansas church whose members have announced they plan to picket the funerals of the victims of Saturday's shootings in Tucson.
The proposed legislation would make it a misdemeanor to protest within 300 feet of a funeral from one hour before until one hour after a funeral, a spokesman for the state House said.
The action, according to House spokesman Daniel Scarpinato, is in direct response to the Westboro Baptist Church's announcement that it will picket the funeral of Christina Green, the 9-year-old who was among six people killed during Saturday's attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona.
The controversial church, based in Topeka, has made its name by staging protests at funerals of people who died of AIDS, gay people, soldiers and even Coretta Scott King.
Within hours of the church's announcements, Facebook groups sprang up to plan actions surrounding the funerals that would keep the church members - most members of the extended family of church founder Fred Phelps - separate from the mourners.
Tucson just isn't that kind of town, says Christin Gilmer, 26, referring to the actions of the church.
"For something like this to happen in Tucson was a really big shock to us all," she said. "Our nightmare happened when we saw Westboro Baptist Church was going to picket the funerals."
Gilmer and others are planning an "angel action" - with 8- by 10-foot "angel wings" worn by participants to shield mourners from picketers. Angel actions were created by Coloradan Romaine Patterson, who was shocked to find the Topeka church and its neon signs outside the 1999 funeral of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man beaten and left on a fence to die in Laramie, Wyoming.
The angel action is part of a larger group, organized by Chelsea Cohen, a 20-year-old University of Arizona senior, aimed at showing Tucson's true colors.
"Once I heard that the Westboro Baptist Church was coming, I felt like something should be done to show support for the families," she said. "I don't have any experience in organizing these things. I thought I might get 50 to 100 people."
Updated: 7:07 pm
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