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Monday, February 9, 2009

Knoxville church shooter pleads guilty to 'hate crime.'

Jim David Adkisson, who attacked a Knoxville Unitarian Universalist congregation with a shotgun last July, killing two and injuring six, pleaded guilty to all charges this morning and was sentenced to life without parole.

Minutes before Adkisson's guilty plea, the Knoxville News Sentinel got access for the first time to the gunman's four-page manifesto, which he had left in his car the morning of the attack as a suicide note. In it, Adkisson declared, "This was a hate crime."

"This was a symbolic killing," Adkisson wrote. "Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate and House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book. I'd like to kill everyone in the mainstream media. But I knew these people were inaccessible to me.

"I couldn't get to the generals and high-ranking officers of the Marxist movement so I went after the foot soldiers, the chicken (expletive) liberals that vote in these traitorous people." . . .

Adkisson devotes one page of his manifesto to the Unitarian Universalist Church itself. The grandfather-turned-killer once attended TVUUC with his now ex-wife.

"I'd like someone to do an expose on this church," he wrote. "It's a den of un-American vipers.'"

Chris Buice, minister of the Tennessee Valley UU Church, responded:

"It was more than just a hatred of liberalism; it was just hatred," Buice said. "Hatred is blind. Ultimately, his hatred is what has now confined him. He will spend the rest of his days in prison. He is now a victim of his own hatred."

The guilty plea and life sentence represent "a measure of closure, as far as the legal aspects go," Buice said. "The verdict feels like justice, not in terms of punishment but more for the protection of those vulnerable in society." . . .

Buice said he saw no indiction of remorse on Adkisson's part. But he said the church will continue to radiate good will and not embrace ill will.

Adkisson's attempt to destroy the church he hated helped strengthen its ties with other faiths in the community, Buice added.

"This church community is so grateful for the love and support from people of all faiths," Buice said. "We thank this community."

This past weekend, the two UU congregations in Knoxville honored the two victims who died in Adkisson's attack. Buice's congregation dedicated its fellowship hall to Greg McKendry and its library to Linda Kraeger as part of the church's sixtieth anniversary celebration. Westside UU Church began a lecture series in Kraeger's honor with a speech by UUA President William Sinkford.

("Pastor: Remorseless shooter is victim of his own hate," Jim Balloch and Jamie Satterfield, 2.9.09; WBIR; "Resilience marks church anniversary, dedications honoring shooting victims," Drew Streip, Knoxville News Sentinel 2.9.09; WBIR; earlier coverage)

Copyright © 2009 by Philocrites | Posted 9 February 2009 at 4:55 PM

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February 9, 2009 05:43 PM | Permalink for this comment

Hate that strong is both scary and sad. I am glad that there isn't a long protracted trial, these families have suffered enough. I am amazed by the grace of the TVUU congregation and hope they have found peace.


February 10, 2009 09:21 AM | Permalink for this comment

Tracey, amen! I've found the video reports about how TVUUC has responded profoundly inspiring. That's one amazing congregation.


February 10, 2009 02:53 PM | Permalink for this comment

The News Sentinel reports on the contents of Adkisson's manifesto, which he released for publication. The Associated Press quote a survivor and several witnesses of Adkisson's crimes, including John Bohstedt, who helped tackle him. "Do you think there are other Jim Adkissons out there listening to hate speech?" Bohstedt said. "I do."

CJW Admirer:

February 11, 2009 02:44 PM | Permalink for this comment

Quote: "It was more than just a hatred of liberalism; it was just hatred," Buice said. "Hatred is blind."

I'm not as close to the situation as Rev. Buice, but it seems plain to me that Adkisson's hatred was far from blind - it was unambiguously focused on liberalism and liberals. I'm not sure what Rev. Buice meant or intended by trying to insinuate that the shooter's hatred was more broad than it was. Perhaps he means that Adkisson was scapegoating liberals for his personal troubles (job, money, etc), the "true objects" of his hatred. That may or may not be, but it does not change the fact that his conscious hatred was toward liberals - and right-wing talk radio encourages the scapegoating of liberals.

Bottom line: IMO, Rev. Buice is mistaken in thinking that right-wing hate is blind. Do not be deceived - it is purposeful.

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