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Centennial Olympic Park bombing

From Academic Kids

The Centennial Olympic Park bombing is one of a series of terrorist bombings comitted by Eric Robert Rudolph. The crime took place on July 27, 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1996 Summer Olympics.

At 1:20am, with Centennial Olympic Park still crowded with late-night revellers, an explosion occurred at the base of a concert sound tower. Alice Hawthorne was killed by bomb shrapnel that struck her in the head. Her home was broken into and robbed less than a week later by thieves who had heard of her death and wanted to take advantage of the situation. The blast wounded 111 others and caused the death of Turkish cameraman Melih Uzunyol from a heart attack while running to cover the blast.

Missing image
OlympicParkBombing_ShrapnelMark.jpg
Shrapnel mark on Olympic Park sculpture.
President Bill Clinton denounced the explosion as an "evil act of terror" and vowed to do everything possible to track down and punish those responsible. At the White House, Clinton said, "We will spare no effort to find out who was responsible for this murderous act. We will track them down. We will bring them to justice."

Despite the tragedy, officials and athletes agreed that the "Olympic spirit" should prevail and that the games should continue as planned.

Just hours after the attack, a security guard named Richard Jewell was hailed as a hero for discovering the suspicious green knapsack that contained the bomb and helping police clear the area before the explosion. Around the time that Jewell called the Federal Bureau of Investigation, police received an anonymous 911 call stating that a bomb had been left in the park.

Four days after the bombing, news organizations began reporting that Jewell had been named as a suspect in the bombing. Jewell was cleared of suspicion by the United States Department of Justice in October of that year, but he claimed that the negative media attention had ruined his reputation. He eventually settled libel lawsuits against a former employer, Piedmont College in Northern Georgia, as well as CNN, ABC, NBC, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which was the first news organization to report that he had been labeled a suspect.

On October 14, 1998, the Department of Justice named Eric Robert Rudolph as its suspect in the bombing as well as two attacks in 1997 on an abortion clinic and the Otherside Lounge, a lesbian nightclub. Despite the announcement, Rudolph was not located and became a fugitive. As late as 1999, on the third anniversary of the bombing, FBI officials believed Rudolph had disappeared into the rugged southern Appalachian Mountains. On May 5, 1998, the FBI named him as one of its ten most wanted fugitives and offered a $1,000,000 reward for information leading directly to his arrest. After more than five years on the run, Rudolph was arrested on May 31, 2003 in Murphy, North Carolina. On April 8, 2005, the govenment announced Rudolph plead guilty to all four bombings, including the Centennial Olympic Park attack, in a deal to avoid the death penalty.

Rudolph's justification for the bombings according to his April 13, 2005 statement, was political:


In the summer of 1996, the world converged upon Atlanta for the Olympic Games. Under the protection and auspices of the regime in Washington millions of people came to celebrate the ideals of global socialism. Multinational corporations spent billions of dollars, and Washington organized an army of security to protect these best of all games. Even though the conception and purpose of the so-called Olympic movement is to promote the values of global socialism, as perfectly expressed in the song {quot}Imagine{quot} by John Lennon, which was the theme of the 1996 Games even though the purpose of the Olympics is to promote these despicable ideals, the purpose of the attack on July 27 was to confound, anger and embarrass the Washington government in the eyes of the world for its abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand.

The plan was to force the cancellation of the Games, or at least create a state of insecurity to empty the streets around the venues and thereby eat into the vast amounts of money invested.


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