Thousands of people including bikers joined a counter-protest group to stop hate-preachers from Westboro Baptist Church disrupting the funerals of the victims of the Orlando massacre.
Ahead of the funerals of 49 people who were shot by gunman Omar Mateen as he opened fire in gay nightclub Pulse, the homophobic church – most known for holding signs stating "God hates fags" – said it was travelling to Florida from its home 1,000 miles away in Topeka, in the state of Kansas, to disrupt the mourners.
But the Westboro Counter Protesters, which was formed just hours after the hate church pledged to visit Orlando, saw biker groups form a blockade and hundreds line the streets to make sure the mourners were not disturbed.
In a statement on the counter-protesters' Facebook page, it said: "More than 300 peaceful #OrlandoUnited neighbours and loved ones came out tonight to support the family and friends of one of our Orlando brothers tragically stolen from us a few days ago. The hate group whose name never deserves to be spoken again didn't dare to rear their ugly head.
"The Orange County Sheriff's Office was the epitome of professionalism. When you see a member of the Law Enforcement community – thank them.
"To the bikers who made a perimeter at the 500ft protest line – thank you. Maybe seeing you standing there was enough to keep the hate group away. To hear how far you travelled to be here was beyond dedicated. We have so much more respect for the biker community. Wow!
"To the Uber driver community who was on the lookout all day for the hate group – thank you."
It is not believed the group made an appearance at the funeral, but the counter-protesters are on high alert after a warning from the church.
In a statement on its website, the Westboro Baptist Church said: "The worst mass shooting in American history occurred at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, whose owner describes it as the'"hottest gay nightclub in Orlando'. The main entertainment for the night was to be performances by 'The Princess', a drag queen from Chicago, and cheap alcohol served by 'Orlando's hottest shot boys'. Instead, a deranged man, with an allegiance to ISIS, showed up with an assault rifle, killing 50 and sending 53 more to the hospital. And the number of dead is likely to increase.
"Everyone from Barak [sic] Obama on down is taking the myopic view that this has something to do with gun control, or Islam, or homophobia, or fill in the blank. Here is reality, and make no mistake about this: God sent the shooter. He is the source. He is the fountainhead. He appointed this thing. He is sending you a message."
The church is most famous for picketing the funerals of soldiers in the US, claiming they died at war because of the US' lenient views on homosexuality.