KKK Member Responsible For 1963 Church Bombing Up For Parole
On August 3, Thomas E. Blanton Jr., will go before a parole board after serving only 15 years behind bars for his part in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala. To prevent the possibility of parole, Mavis Austin from Wheat Ridge Co., started a petition to keep the Klansmen behind bars.
“For years, Blanton lived free while loved ones mourned and wondered if the people behind the bombing would ever pay for their heinous crime.15 years in prison is not punishment enough for perpetrating a hate crime that cost four girls their lives. Tell the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles to deny Thomas Blanton Jr. parole,” the petition reads.
The Change.org petition, which was started just a week ago, has merited nearly 20,000 signatures from supporters who think Blanton should stay behind bars. Alabama.com reports Blanton was given four life sentences for his crime, and according to Alabama law, those given life sentences are eligible for parole after 15 years.
Former U.S. attorney who prosecuted Blanton, Doug Jones, said he will be present at the hearing to ensure Blanton does not leave prison.
“He has shown no remorse. He’s shown no acceptance of responsibility,” Jones said. “He has not reached out to the families or the community to show acceptance of responsibility. I think that’s an important part of parole consideration, and it’s completely lacking in this case.”
The four girls killed in the blast on September 15, 1963 are Addie Mae Collins, 14; Cynthia Wesley, 14; Carole Robertson, 14; and Carol Denise McNair, 11. Blanton is the last surviving Klansmen who was tried for the bombing.