- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2001

About 100 people yesterday protested against the death penalty in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was being executed by injection in Terre Haute, Ind.
"I am disappointed that our government cant find a better way to deal with justice, using violence to curtail violence," said event organizer Kim Lamberty, director of social concerns for the St. John Catholic Church in Silver Spring.
The ecumenical group of protesters carried signs criticizing capital punishment. They later sang spirituals and prayed for the families of the 168 victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, as well as for McVeigh.
Many of the protesters, including ministers and rabbis, suggested that McVeigh was being executed for political reasons, even though McVeigh, unrepentant to the end, confessed to the mass murder.
"McVeigh is just being used as an example," said Father Michael Bryant, chaplain for the D.C. Jail. "Hes a poster child for the death-penalty political front. Hes a white guy, hes not mentally ill, he comes from middle-class America, and he is unrepentant. This gives the government carte blanche to activate [the death-penalty] legitimately."
"We are here to reflect and take solace in the fact that [the nation] has bloodied our hands and are back in the business of executions," said Rabbi Marc Israel of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism. "The only reason they are doing this is for political appeasement."
Meanwhile, about 40 people demonstrated outside the federal courthouse in Richmond, using a 12-foot skull made of cardboard and a slow, circular march to protest against the McVeigh execution.
Shortly before 8 a.m., the marchers came together to hear a letter from Bud Welch, the anti-death penalty father of one of the 168 victims in the Oklahoma City federal building bombing. They then shared a moment of silent prayer at the hour McVeigh was put to death.
The demonstrators hoped the rally would cause others to examine their own views on the death penalty.
"Its essential that theres a public voice, that we break the silence around this issue," said demonstration organizer Kathleen Kenney of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. "It tells other people thinking the same thing, 'Im not alone."
Miss Kenney and others said McVeighs execution will not bring "closure" to the victims families.
Mr. Welch, whose daughter Julie, 23, was killed by the bomb that McVeigh set, urged death-penalty opponents to peacefully "send a clear message to our government — and to the people of this nation — that what we are embarking on … is just plain wrong."
The skull, fashioned from a large box and cloaked in a long, black fabric robe, was made by Little Flower Catholic Workers, a religious community in Goochland County, west of Richmond.
The Richmond and Washington demonstrations were among dozens of protests that took place at jails and courthouses across the country yesterday.
In Washington, Mr. Israel admitted that McVeigh would be at the top of a short list of those who deserve the death penalty, but said the system of capital punishment is too flawed and does not protect the interests of justice.
"My heart goes out to the victims and their families, but I dont think that our government taking lives is worth the cost of, one day, some day, there being an execution of an innocent man," said the rabbi.
"They can only get healing through reconciliation and mercy," said Mrs. Lamberty.
* This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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