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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

2001 Timothy McVeigh Execution

The tragic saga of the Oklahoma City bombing has taken a bizarre twist in recent days. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft reluctantly imposed a 30-day stay in the execution of Timothy McVeigh, when it was learned that the FBI had failed to turn over to defense attorneys thousands of pages of agency documents relating to their investigation. Most certainly that stay will be extended to allow his attorneys to fully examine the papers. Such a fiasco seems to give McVeigh a greater opportunity to bring further embarrassment and cast public doubt upon the agency (especially among individuals and groups of his ilk). If only the stay had been granted for reasons of pure conscience, realizing killing is wrong.

Bud Welch, whose daughter Julie, died in the bombing, notes that a majority of family members who lost a loved one killed in the bombing, now realize the execution of McVeigh will not help with their healing. Welch spoke in Missouri several weeks ago during the ten-day Journey of Hope From Violence to Healing, sponsored by Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty. McVeigh’s killing, Welch says, would just be an "event. Healing, on the other hand, is a process, often life-long, which won’t be furthered with the killing of yet another human being." Welch had been a life-time proponent of the death penalty, but switched his position after his daughter’s violent death. Several months after the bombing though, Welch recalled a conversation he had with daughter. As they drove, news of another Texas execution came on the radio. According to Bud, Julie had said, state killing "‘was only teaching children to hate.’" Soon after realizing he himself had become consumed by hatred, he began speaking out against the planned federal killing. "Revenge is what drove Timothy McVeigh to kill in response to the killings of the Branch Davidians at Waco. Revenge is what’s driving the United States to kill McVeigh." He laments, "What more violence will be spawned by the killing of this man" who appears to be getting his wish: to become a political martyr for the extreme right-wing?

Welch is among the inspiring human beings during our violent, vengeful times who are charting for our species a path of compassion, upon which we are challenged to tread and evolve. Part of that trek for him came when he saw broadcast news reports of Bill McVeigh, Tim’s father and recognized the profound pain in his face, much akin to his own suffering. Welch searched him out and met with Bill and his daughter, sharing their common sense of loss (in Bill’s case, a son he no longer can publicly, proudly acknowledge—a grown child nearing execution). Let us all reach out to those in our midst mourning the loss of their loved one.

The FOR will also hold a vigil the day before the federal execution of Timothy McVeigh, from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Boone County Courthouse with a prayer vigil proceeding at 6:30 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 204 E. Ash—to recall those killed in the bombing, their grieving families, to solemnly protest McVeigh’s execution and to remember his family. Call 449-4585 for details.

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In the press

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