BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Americas
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Death penalty supporter JJ Jackson
"I'm here to stand up for what's right"
 real 28k

Bud Welch, father of Oklahoma City victim
"We don't have the right to kill him"
 real 28k

Monday, 11 June, 2001, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Rival camps hold death vigils
Opponent kneeling at jail
Death penalty opponents wept as McVeigh died
By BBC News Online's Kevin Anderson in Terre Haute

Two groups of death penalty campaigners, both passionate in their beliefs, were outside the prison in Terre Haute as Timothy McVeigh died.

The two rival camps - a few hundred anti-death penalty protesters and a handful of pro-execution supporters - were kept well apart from each other in two fenced-in areas.

I'm so glad that he's dead - he can't hurt nobody else

Death penalty supporter
The death penalty opponents began a silent vigil at 0412 local time, 168 minutes ahead of McVeigh's execution - one minute for each of his 168 victims.

Some protesters lit candles in the early morning darkness, as many prayed and some read the Bible.

It was a quiet, sombre protest. Shortly after first light, a brief cloudburst freshened the air. One of the protesters said: "The angels are crying."

Anti-campaigner lights candle
Candles were lit in the early morning gloom
The protesters were ringed three deep by the world's media. During the last minutes of silent vigil, the only sound was that of the camera shutters.

Shortly after 0700, the protesters stood up. A man said: "Six minutes ago, the state began the homicide of Timothy McVeigh."

His voice cracked with emotion.

In the other fenced-in area, about 50 death penalty supporters turned out. Many of them thought the media coverage was too focused on McVeigh and that the victims had been forgotten.

Death penalty supporter
Death penalty supporters made their point with posters
Many, including Debby Harris, also expressed anger that McVeigh's death was too easy, his suffering nothing compared to that of the 168 victims of the bombing and the family members they left behind.

"One-hundred-and-sixty-eight people got blown up," she said, calling McVeigh's death "a little needle in the arm".

"I feel so great. I'm so glad that he's dead. He's gone. He can't hurt nobody else," she added.

There is no closure, there is no end, but the only satisfaction we will have is that Timothy McVeigh will not do this again

Pro-death supporter
JJ Jackson
Another pro-death penalty campaigner, JJ Jackson, helped the Oklahoma City medical examiner's office with death notifications.

"We can never have justice, but the closest thing is what the law allows, and this is what it allows," Miss Jackson said.

"There is no closure, there is no end, nothing can bring them back, but the only satisfaction we will have is that Timothy McVeigh will not do this again."

There's no doubt about Tim McVeigh's guilt - there's just nothing to be gained by killing number 169

Bud Welch, father of victim
Angie Tarter also came out to show her support for the victims and for the death penalty.

"I personally don't want to spend my tax dollars keeping people who have killed other people alive," she said.

But among the relatives who have made the journey to Terre Haute are some in the anti-death penalty camp.

"I don't see there's anything to be gained by taking Tim McVeigh out of his cage to kill him," said Bud Welch, who lost his 23-year-old daughter, Julie-Marie.

Death penalty opponents
Opponents hugged each other as the execution approached
Mr Welch said relatives who had watched murderers die in other cases had not found the peace they were looking for.

"There's no doubt about Tim McVeigh's guilt. There's just nothing to be gained by killing number 169," he said.

Another protester, Earle Harvey, said he opposed the death penalty because he did not think the government had any more right to kill its citizens than citizens had the right to kill individual citizens.

It was important for him to support the anti-death penalty protest "to be a witness to my beliefs", he said.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
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
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories