Thursday, January 26, 2012

In Alabama

MVFHR Board President Bud Welch will be addressing students at Samford University's School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama today and will then be the keynote speaker at the Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers Association's "Loosening the Death Belt" conference this weekend. Bud's 23-year-old daughter Julie was killed in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. Here's an excerpt from his story that the Association has posted on its site:

Three days after the bombing, as I watched Tim McVeigh being led out of the courthouse, I hoped someone in a high building with a rifle would shoot him dead. I wanted him to fry. In fact, I’d have killed him myself if I’d had the chance.

It wasn't long before I concluded that it was revenge and hate that had killed Julie and the 167 others. Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols had been against the US government for what happened to the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, in 1993. Seeing what they’d done with their vengeance, I knew I had to send mine in a different direction.

Shortly afterwards I started speaking out against the death penalty.

After the bombing I’d seen a news report on Tim McVeigh’s father, Bill. He was shown stooping over a flowerbed, and when he stood up I could see that he’d been physically bent over in pain. I recognized it because I was feeling that pain, too.

About a year before the execution I found it in my heart to forgive Tim McVeigh. It was a release for me rather than for him.

Six months after the bombing a poll taken in Oklahoma City of victims’ families and survivors showed that 85% wanted the death penalty for Tim McVeigh. Six years later that figure had dropped to nearly half, and now most of those who supported his execution have come to believe it was a mistake. In other words, they didn’t feel any better after Tim McVeigh was taken from his cell and killed.

And here is coverage in the Birmingham News.

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