February 13, 2013 - Legislation placing restrictions on funeral and burial protests, including those of veterans, was approved last week by the County Council.
The measure, introduced by 6th District Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton, was approved with a 6-0 vote. First District Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City, was absent from the Feb. 5 meeting.
The legislation mirrors ordinances approved in Creve Coeur, Manchester and Clayton, according to Stenger.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the city of Manchester's ordinance in October. That ordinance was drafted in response to funeral and burial protests conducted by members of the Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church.
Stenger's legislation restricts picketing within 300 feet of where a funeral or burial service is taking place during the duration of the service, as well as one hour before and after a service.
Stenger previously told the Call that he was motivated to introduce the legislation primarily because Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery lies completely within his council district.
The cemetery, with its 346 developed acres and more than 176,000 interments, is the fifth busiest national cemetery with 350 to 400 burials per month, according to the councilman.
"I see these smaller municipalities taking action in this regard and to think we wouldn't take that same action for our fallen heroes, particularly in unincorporated (St. Louis County) in our own district where we have Jefferson Barracks Cemetery, I think it would be a mistake not to do that," Stenger previously said.