Thomas Edwin Blanton, Jr., the last survivor of the KKK members who bombed a Birmingham, Alabama, church in 1963, could be released from prison early.
Blanton, now 78, was convicted in May 2001 for participating in the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church, which killed four black girls — Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Morris. It was an act of white terrorism — one of many — in response to the desegregation of Alabama schools.
Blanton spent almost 40 years a free man after the attack, and then served 15 years in prison after the FBI arrested him and a jury found him guilty. The two other men who were convicted alongside him passed away in prison.
The president of the Birmingham NAACP said Blanton’s release would be “a travesty of justice.” The NAACP, family members of the victims, and other social and racial justice groups are urging the Alabama Parole Board to deny Blanton freedom. Organizations across the country have taken notice. Bread and Roses, a Massachusetts non-profit and social justice group, called on the public to join the protest:
For years, Blanton lived free while loved ones mourned and wondered if the people behind the bombing would ever pay for their heinous crime. Fifteen 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 by contacting The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, PO Box 302405, Montgomery, Al 36130-2405, (334) 353-7771.
The board will hold a hearing on Wednesday, August 3, 2016, to decide Blanton’s fate.