Last year, a man attempted to set off a bomb downtown on the day set aside to remember Martin Luther King, Jr.
Alert city workers found a backpack filled with explosives near the intended parade route. Because the device did not detonate, determined detectives were eventually able to trace parts to the store where purchased, the purchased items to the suspect’s credit card, and DNA samples matched up. The result? One self-proclaimed white supremacist sentenced to 32 years in prison.
While the judge in this case seemed hopeful that time spent in jail would ensure this man would look into his soul and see the error of his ways, I have no such dream. I guess that’s a sad thing to say on the eve of the day when we honor a different man who did indeed Have A Dream.
Last year’s Unity Parade was re-routed away from the police activity and robot (if you saw The Hurt Locker, then you know what the robot looks like). This year, parade organizers hope that there will be an exceptionally large turnout for the parade as a way to show opposition to racism.
This is what he had to say in Court:
“I was making a statement that there are people out there who don’t agree with these ideas.”
He likened himself to a Christian protesting gay marriage, “but a bit more dangerous or extreme.”
I’m fairly confident that 32 years in prison is not going to turn this guy away from his extreme racist viewpoint. There are white supremacist gangs in prison (check out these articles if you didn’t already know that little fact). Even the judge was dismayed by the lack of remorse, but 32 years was the maximum sentence allowed with the plea deal.
This man claimed his bomb was a “creative” way to protest the inclusive message of the Unity Parade. While waiting to detonate his bomb, he was taking pictures of black children and a man wearing a yarmulke. No mention in the news reports that I read regarding photos of rainbows but no doubt he was targeting homosexuals as well.
I’ve been reading about this case while contemplating what to do on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day 2012. Part of me (the brave, daring, willful part) wants to go downtown, brave the frigid temperatures, and stand with the several thousand people who will be joining together at 10 0’clock in the morning. Part of me (the timid, sensible, consider-the-facts part) wants to keep herself and her children away from a situation that could turn deadly. Remember what happened to innocent bystanders and Gabrielle Giffords last year…
Most likely, the part of me that dislikes crowds will be the deciding factor. But I will choose something to do to remember and honor a man who Had A Dream… a Dream that many hold dear today.