When Adrian Pomier heard that the Westboro Baptist Church planned to picket the funerals of several January 8 shooting victims, he knew he had to get involved.
Pomier, who grew up in Kansas, where the controversial church is based, knew Westboro's tactics and didn’t want that type of vitriol in his adopted home of Tucson, he says.
So Pomier, a former prison guard, volunteered to become an "angel" for the funerals of victims Christina Taylor-Green and Judge John Roll. He and his fellow volunteers formed human barricades, shielding the mourners from protesters with 8-by-10-foot wings.
In the end, Westboro didn’t come to Tucson, but the angels--and a contingent of bikers, volunteer medics and other supporters--still attended the funerals to show the community's compassion in a tragic time.
It was an opportunity, he says, to serve the victims and their families in a way "that doesn't negate anyone's pain, but it doesn't add to it."