MPD Expects to File Charges in Cemetery Trespassing

Meridian, Miss. Meridian Police say charges could be filed after a trespassing incident at a local cemetery.

We previously brought you the story of the Satanic Temple's trip to a Meridian cemetery that's gaining national attention. Now the cemetery owner is looking to press charges, and the police are preparing to make an arrest.

"Meridian Police have reached out and spoken to Mr. Arlinghaus of Magnolia Cemetery," says Captain Dean Harper of the Meridian Police Department. "We are in the process now of constructing affidavits and warrants against these individuals, and we will have them arrested as soon as we can."

A group from New York's Satanic Temple made the trip to Meridian to protest the Westboro Baptist Church. There, they performed a ritual they call Pink Mass on the grave of Catherine Johnston, the mother of Westboro founder Fred Phelps, Jr. The ceremony involved two same-sex couples kissing over her grave. They then declared Catherine Johnston a lesbian in the afterlife.

"It is an unusual crime that we haven't come across to my knowledge in awhile," says Harper. "Not only does it violate a state and city ordinance, but it also violates the moral decency of a human being."

The Satanic Temple claims their actions are instead meant to convey a message of love in the face of hate. They want to celebrate gay love since the Westboro Baptist Church has become famous for its intolerance of homosexuals. The Satanic Temple encourages others to hold their own pink masses in the cemetery, but the owner says he'll be on the lookout.

"They are not welcome to perform disrespectful ceremonies," says Bill Arlinghaus, owner of Magnolia Cemetery. "This is the actions of a few, and I don't want to give them overly too much attention because that's really what they're trying to seek."

The Satanic Temple admits that attention is what they're after. They hope their actions will draw attention to the organization's efforts to raise money to participate in New York City's Adopt-a-Highway program.

Captain Harper says the MPD has plenty of evidence to arrest these individuals. They'll be looking at charges for trespassing, indecent exposure and malicious mischief at a minimum.