UPDATE (9:05 a.m.) – An Alabama parole board has denied the parole of 76-year-old Thomas Edwin Blaton, Jr.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A one-time Ku Klux Klan member is up for parole. 76-year-old Thomas Edwin Blanton, Jr. was convicted in the deadly 16th street Baptist Church bombing that killed four little girls.
The state parole board will hold a hearing for Blanton Wednesday morning in Montgomery. The board says Blanton won’t attend, but opponents like Birmingham’s chapter of the NAACP will be there to protest the hearing.
Mayor William Bell released a statement in regards to Wednesday’s Blanton Parole Hearing: “The tragedy of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church and the death of the four little girls changed the course of history. And while we have come so far as a City, there are some crimes that are so sinister that parole should not be considered. This is one of those crimes.”
The 76-year-old Blanton is the last surviving KKK member convicted of murder in the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963.
Opponents are speaking out against Blanton’s possible release after just 15 years in prison.
Blanton 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.