A Ku Klux Klan member currently serving four life sentences in Alabama for murdering four black girls in 1963 is up for parole after serving only 15 years, AL.com reports. Thomas Blanton was convicted in 2001 of planting a bomb outside a Birmingham Baptist church that killed an 11-year-old girl and three 14-year-old girls inside. According to the AP, two other Klansmen convicted in the bombing have since died in prison. Former US attorney Doug Jones, who prosecuted Blanton, calls the bombing an "act of terrorism." And an NAACP volunteer in Alabama says it was a "heinous crime against innocent children." Despite the life sentences, a parole hearing for the 78-year-old Blanton is scheduled for Wednesday. The parole board is expected to make a decision the same day.
Like all other Alabama inmates, Blanton won't be present at his parole hearing. But prosecutors, families of the victims, civil rights groups, and members of the black community all plan to attend to oppose Blanton's release. "I think it would be a travesty of justice if he were paroled," the president of the Metro Birmingham NAACP tells AL.com. “He has shown no remorse. He’s shown no acceptance of responsibility," Vibe quotes Jones as saying. "He has not reached out to the families or the community to show acceptance of responsibility." The president of the Alabama NAACP says it would be a "slap in the face" to let Blanton go free in the middle of the nation's high-profile incidents of violence against black people.