2016-06-30
TERRE HAUTE, Ind., June 8--Debbie Walker is going to Jamaica, courtesy of Timothy McVeigh. From her Terre Haute tattoo parlor, Walker has been selling McVeigh T-shirts for months leading to Monday's scheduled execution. She's sold more than 28 dozen white T's bearing a screaming headline "DIE! DIE! DIE!" An equal opportunity peddler, Walker also has anti-death penalty shirts for sale, though most sit unsold in a box in the back of her shop.

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  • Death Penalty Opponents' Worst Nightmare
    How McVeigh has changed the debate
  • With the on-again, off-again execution looking on again--now that McVeigh has dropped his appeals--Walker is ordering more shirts to sell along city streets.

    "You think the people of Terre Haute aren't profiting already?" Walker said with a hoarse laugh.

    "This whole town is going to profit. I'm just taking my little piece of the pie."

    People are making a killing off the killing of Timothy McVeigh. From jacked-up hotel prices for journalists streaming into town, to McVeigh wall clocks for sale on eBay, the Oklahoma City bomber's execution brings an economic boon few want to talk about.

    A Colorado federal court ruling Wednesday denying McVeigh's bid to postpone his lethal injection led to a burst of activity in this Indiana town of 60,000. Many had assumed the execution would be delayed. Now, the city is being set upon by 1,500 reporters and an undetermined number of protesters.

    "I've got to make a bunch of sandwiches and get things ready," said Raoul David, who owns a grocery across the street from the federal prison. "This will mean big business."

    Residents near the prison are making thousands of dollars selling parking spots on their lawns. A rental company is charging $200 for bike rentals. A shuttle bus to the prison costs $60. A 6-foot table on the prison grounds for a reporter, with one phone line and one electrical outlet, costs $1,196.50. That includes a complimentary bottle of chilled water.

    The Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce avoided estimating how much the city's economy would benefit from the execution. But using the Chamber's standard figure of $70 spent per day per visitor, the city can expect to reap $500,000 from reporters, protesters, and out-of-town police assigned to crowd and traffic control.

    That doesn't include money associated with coverage of the execution, such as equipment rental and parking, or the money spent by the hundreds of reporters who have descended on Terre Haute in recent months.

    "It's just not right to talk about the numbers going to be generated by an event of this type," said Rod Henry at the Chamber of Commerce.

    The Ultimate Punishment

  • Evangelicals Rethink the Death Penalty By Deborah Caldwell

  • The Pope vs. Paragraph 2266 A Catholic defends the death penalty

  • Where is McVeigh Going? Discuss.

  • Bible verses about capital punishment

  • Death Penalty Opponents' Worst Nightmare
    How McVeigh has changed the debate
  • "This is a solemn event. At the same time, I can tell you that companies that service visitors are going to make money."

    EBay, the biggest Internet auction site, offered numerous McVeigh items last month, including a wall clock and a refrigerator magnet bearing McVeigh's police mug shot; a T-shirt picturing a large syringe with the words "Hoosier Hospitality" and "Final Justice"; copies of letters he's written; and a button with a rifle cross-hairs superimposed over his photo.

    After criticism, eBay suspended sales of all merchandise connected to McVeigh and other killers on May 17--a day after his first scheduled execution.

    Walker is exporting T-shirts from her Body Art Emporium tattoo parlor. "I've been shipping to California, Florida, New Jersey, a lot to Texas. I don't know what's going on in Texas.

    "I consider them a keep-sake," Walker said, as she handed a profane version of the pro-execution shirt to an NBC cameraman from New York for $20. "Twenty, 30, 50 years from now, you can give this to your grandkids and they'll know you were here."

    At Books-a-Million, "American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh & the Oklahoma City Bombing" is a best-seller. Two copies are on a shelf between the biography of the World Wrestling Federation's Chyna and Marie Osmond's thoughts on postpartum depression. Until recently, there were 30 people on a waiting list for the McVeigh book, in which McVeigh admits planting the bomb and calls the 19 children who died "collateral damage."

    "I don't think we should even sell it," said bookstore co-manager Deb Thorpe. "He's the scum of the earth."

    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.

    The Ultimate Punishment

  • Evangelicals Rethink the Death Penalty By Deborah Caldwell

  • The Pope vs. Paragraph 2266 A Catholic defends the death penalty

  • Where is McVeigh Going? Discuss.

  • Bible verses about capital punishment

  • Death Penalty Opponents' Worst Nightmare
    How McVeigh has changed the debate
  • 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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