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Group gathers in Jefferson City to protest federal executions 

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A small group of demonstrators gathered outside the Christopher S. Bond Courthouse in Jefferson City to protest a federal execution Tuesday.  

The vigil was organized by the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation and Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP) in protest of the execution of William LeCroy, which is scheduled for Tuesday evening in Indiana. Five demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse to protest.  

“We’re concerned about another human being sentenced to be executed today in our name collectively as a nation,” Jeff Stack of the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation told The Missouri Times. “We’re not going to defend what he did, but regardless of his crimes, he is still a human being and therefore has the intrinsic right to life that we all have. It’s a travesty as far as our standing among the world’s nations, and we should do better.”

Stack noted the flag flying at half-staff in the building’s courtyard in honor of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, herself a staunch critic of the death penalty. 

“She had the sensibility to recognize that it’s cruel and unusual punishment to send someone to death and years later kill them,” he said. 

execution protest
Protestors gathered outside the Christopher S. Bond Courthouse Tuesday. (THE MISSOURI TIMES/CAMERON GERBER)

“The tide of public opinion is moving against the death penalty,” Laird Oaky of MADP said, citing a recent Gallup poll that showed a record low 54 percent of Americans supporting capital punishment while 40 percent said the practice was morally wrong. 

“These people have been sitting in suspended sentences, and now suddenly they’re being executed,” he said. “There’s a lot of reasons to be against it, like basic immorality and the fact it doesn’t have any deterrence value.”

Representatives from both groups also held vigils in Springfield, Kansas City, and St. Louis Tuesday afternoon.

Lecroy is the sixth person to face federal execution this year. He was charged with the 2001 murder of Joanne Teisler.

The execution of Christopher Vialva is scheduled for Thursday. Vialva was sentenced for a double homicide committed in 1999. Both sentences are to be carried out at the U.S. prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

This year saw the first federal executions since 2003, with President Donald Trump resuming the practice after a 17-year hiatus. Vialva’s is the last scheduled federal execution thus far, according to the Death Penalty Information Center’s website

Missouri held the first execution in the U.S. since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in May, putting Walter Barton to death for the 1991 murder of Glady Kueller. Barton was the 90th person to face capital punishment in the state since the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the use of the death penalty in 1976.