The Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) is a motorcycle club whose members attend the funerals of members of the United States armed forces at the invitation of the deceased’s family. Patriot Guard Riders’ representatives state that they are not a chartered motorcycle club, but a group of patriotic individuals.
The group was formed in 2005, to shelter and protect the funerals from protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church, who claim that the deaths of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are divine retribution for American tolerance of homosexuality. PGR members position themselves to physically shield the mourners from the presence of the Westboro protesters by blocking the protesters from view with their motorcade, or by having members hold American flags. The group also drowns out the protesters’ chants by singing patriotic songs or by revving motorcycle engines.
Although initially founded by motorcyclists, the organization is open to anyone, regardless of political affiliation, veteran status, or whether they ride or not. The only prerequisite is “a deep respect for those who serve our country; military, firefighters, or law enforcement”. The Patriot Guard was established in Mulvane, Kansas at American Legion Post 136 in 2005.