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Thursday August 30, 2012

NORTH ADAMS -- Officials from the city of North Adams, church and other community leaders were scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon to prepare to address reports of a protest and counter protests at Saturday's funeral for U.S. Army Private First Class Michael R. DeMarsico II, as well as to manage the large crowds expected to turn out for the services.

On Wednesday night, a flier began circulating through social media websites stating the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church (also known as WBC) plans to present an anti-military funeral message "to be preached in respectful, lawful proximity to the memorial of Pfc. Michael R. DeMarsico II" on Saturday at 10:15 a.m., near the First Baptist Church of North Adams.

In response, two Facebook events were established to organize to counter the WBC's presence and to show solidarity for the DeMarsico family.

"I did wake up to the angst of so many about postings on Facebook," North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright told The Eagle on Thursday.

He said that due to the WBC's habitual practice of demonstrating, Alcombright said that the city has been aware of the possibility the group's protest as well as of counter protesters.

Both representatives of Westboro Baptist Church and the other assemblies have said they will each hold peaceful, lawful and respectful demonstrations.


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"The city and all involved with the planning have had this on the radar. We have planned for it. I would just urge all our community to focus on the DeMarsico family and provide them with all the love and support that they need," the mayor said.

Alcombright also posted a message on his Facebook page regarding the funeral route.

"I encourage all to line the routes as indicated in support of the family and to honor Michael," he wrote.