1963 Birmingham Church Bomber Denied Parole
Alabama’s parole board has decided against freeing a one-time Ku Klux Klansman convicted in a church bombing that killed four black girls more than 50 years ago.
The girls killed were 14 year old Addie Mae Collins, 14 year old Cynthia Wesley, 14 year old Carole Robertson, and 11 year old Carol Denise McNair.
The Wednesday decision to keep 76-year-old Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. imprisoned was met with applause at the hearing.
At the hearing, relatives of the girls spoke against Blanton’s release.
Blanton is the last surviving KKK member convicted of murder in the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 for being part of a group of Klansmen who planted a bomb outside the church during the civil rights movement.
Two other former KKK members were convicted of murder and died behind bars.
Blanton can be considered for parole again in five years.
Civil rights activists opposed the parole, saying Blanton has served just 15 years of four life sentences.
Local NAACP President Hezekiah Jackson says freeing Blanton now during nationwide protests over police treatment of black people would send the wrong message.
Blanton has denied involvement in the bombing. He’s among three one-time Klansmen convicted in the blast.
It brought international attention to Birmingham and helped the state’s largest city earn the nickname Bomingham.
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