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The BBC's Jonny Dymond
speaks to a supporter of the execution
 real 28k

Monday, 11 June, 2001, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Barriers separate death protesters
Anti-death penalty campaigners
Anti-death activists want to show their opposition
By News Online's Kevin Anderson in Terre Haute

Small groups both opposing and supporting the death penalty gathered in Terre Haute ahead of the execution of convicted Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Outside the prison, a traffic sign flashed directions for demonstrators, telling pro-death penalty protesters to gather at one local park and anti-death penalty activists to gather at another.

Preparations for protests ahead of McVeigh's execution
Officials hope to keep the two factions apart
Officials from the Bureau of Prisons carefully laid plans to allow protesters to air their views.

Prisons spokesman Jim Cross said that once at the parks, the protesters would be transported to the prison grounds.

Prison officials set up two separate areas for demonstrators on the prison grounds, said Mr Cross.

The pro and anti factions are 460m (1,500 feet) apart.

Silent vigil

"Hopefully, the two groups will never come in contact with one another," said Mr Cross.

Prison officials added 100 extra security staff ahead of the execution, which included security at the protest areas, the media area and the prison in general.

Mr Cross said that prison officials had been in contact with several anti-death penalty organisations, but the groups could not provide an estimate of the number of protesters.

Anti-death penalty campaigner
Anti-death campaigners say all killing is wrong
Karen Burkhart, the co-ordinator for Amnesty International Death Penalty Abolition project in the US state of Indiana, said that she expected between 500 and 1000 people to attend.

In addition to the events in Terre Haute, she said that protests were planned in 30 states across the US.

In Terre Haute on Sunday, a few hundred anti-death penalty activists marched from a local church to the prison and back before heading off to their designated park.

Activists intend to write to the president urging him to abolish the death penalty, and also on behalf of a other inmates who are scheduled to be executed soon.

Pro-death penalty supporter
Pro-death supporters say McVeigh must pay the ultimate penalty

The vigil was set to begin at 0412, exactly 168 minutes before execution. The 168 minutes were intended as a moment of silence for each of the victims of the bombing.

Remember the victims

No pro-death penalty activities were planned according to a handful of people who gathered at the local park set aside by prison officials.

But the few who were there said they had come to return the focus to the victims, who they thought were beginning to be forgotten.

One local woman turned out "to stand up for the rights of the 168 victims". She added, "We're here to stand up for them. Not for Timothy McVeigh."

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See also:

11 Jun 01 | Americas
McVeigh 'ready to die'
10 Jun 01 | Americas
McVeigh: Countdown to death
04 Jun 01 | Americas
Prosecutors oppose McVeigh delay
31 May 01 | Americas
McVeigh's on-off date with death
16 May 01 | Americas
FBI admits McVeigh blunder
12 Apr 01 | Americas
Live from death row
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