They, the Phelps gang, were just in an area near me last week. They were protesting something at a local high school. Upon checking out several aspects of their travels and how they operate, a few things are clear. One, they package the protests with a well placed advance notice to local law enforcement and media. They also openly list the protest schedule on the church web page. They typically drive in one van, and plan a route that yields the most media air time.
In our recent visit, they cancelled, one of two stops, that was not planned out correctly, according to them. So, observers and media, last week counted no more than 7 to 9 active members of their travel group. They also have several attorney-members and are well versed in First Amendment features that they can exploite.
The local visit lasted about ten minutes, they got face time on all the tv stations, the counter demonstrators rallied several hundred. In the past they had legal folks on standby to enforce the notion of protest on public ground. My guess is that they present a easy target for various assaults and thus it is safe to say, some LE or private entity, monitors parts of their travel. So, any illegal act to harm or effort toimpede them, is a bad idea. If we balance the discussion they generate.we can view that as a good thing,for all. Otherwise, much like a pesky fly at a picnic, you are better off to ignore it, and continue having fun.
With that all said, there are positive ways to shield funerals and other public events from this type of free speech. The Patriot Guard Motorcycle honor guards, are a great example of response.