Officials develop security plan for McVeigh protesters

Saturday, April 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) _ Officials have mapped out how they will handle demonstrators at Timothy McVeigh's execution, agreeing on tight security that will severely limit what protesters can bring on prison grounds.

Security will be so rigid that regardless of the weather, no protesters will be allowed to carry umbrellas.

``We've thought of every potential crisis that could develop, and we've got a game plan for it,'' said Jeff Trotter, assistant chief of the Terre Haute Police Department.

McVeigh, 33, is scheduled to be executed by injection at the federal penitentiary in Terra Haute for the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people.

Officials decided Friday that demonstrators can begin gathering at two city parks the night before the May 16 execution _ one park for death penalty supporters and a second for opponents.

Demonstrators will be screened by Bureau of Prison officials, searched with portable metal detectors, then allowed to board buses with barred windows.

They will be limited in what they can bring on prison grounds: a poster that can roll up, a candle with a wind shield, keys, cell phones and pagers, religious medallions and a hymn book, Bible or other book.

Only those with medical conditions that require food and drink can bring them along.

About 20 buses will be available to shuttle protesters from the parks to the prison, where they may be searched again before being routed to two areas that are 500 yards apart.

Each group will be corralled by waist-high orange plastic fencing.

Each demonstrator area will have a tent for shelter for about 50 people and some seating, likely on bales of hay. The prison also will supply drinking water and portable toilets.

Warden Harley Lappin said he has been in touch with groups of death penalty opponents, but has no idea how many to expect for McVeigh's execution.