Terre Haute Rakes in Cash

'Moronic marketing venture' or 'capitalism at its best'? Either way, people are making a killing off the McVeigh execution.

BY: Ron French
The Detroit News


Continued from page 2

The city parks department bans merchandise sales at two parks where protesters will gather before the execution. But that won't stop Walker and others from peddling their wares on lawns along the city's main streets and in front of the prison.

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  • Henry said hotels increased the prices of rooms when the execution date was announced, but that practice is normal when events increase tourism.

    Larry Taylor, who lives across a two-lane highway from the prison, will park more than 100 media vehicles on his lawn. He plans to donate the $3,000 he'll make from the parking to his church.

    Two homes north, Thomas Norris plans to park about 50 cars on his lawn for $10 a day. He's charging a TV station $1,100 to park its satellite truck on his property.

    "I ain't greedy," Norris said. "The prison is charging $2,000 to park across the road.

    "I pay to park when I go to a carnival. I figure they should pay to come to this carnival."

    Norris plans to sell coffee, soda and sandwiches to reporters and protesters who keep vigil throughout the night before the 7 a.m. execution.

    "Why shouldn't I make some money on this?" Norris asked. "The hospital made theirs out in Oklahoma City; the mortuaries made theirs; the cemeteries made theirs. What's wrong with making a few bucks?"

    Community leaders have expressed disgust with residents profiting from McVeigh's death. An editorial in the Terre Haute Tribune Star called T-shirt sales a "moronic marketing venture" by people "only trying to make a buck."

    That paper plans a 12-page, 50-cent special edition to be published in the hours after the execution and rushed to the prison to be sold to protesters. The newspaper is selling ads in the special edition.

    "It is being warmly received" by advertisers, particularly restaurants, said circulation director Rob Koewler.

    And at Walker's tattoo parlor, there is an execution special: 10 percent off tattoos for reporters.

    "It's America," smiled tattoo artist Damon Thompson. "It's capitalism at its best."

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