Gov. Ivey apologizes after attorney, 16th Street Baptist Church bombing victim ask for apology and compensation

Governor Ivey sends letter in response, apologizes for bombing

Church bombing survivor asking for restitution

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The law firm of Jenner & Block sent a letter to Governor Kay Ivey asking for an apology and compensation for hate crime victim and survivor of the 1963 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing, Sarah Collins Rudolph.

Ivey responded to the letter Wednesday.

Collins Rudolph was 12 when the church was attacked killing four little girls, including Ms. Collins Rudolph’s sister, 14-year-old Addie Mae, as well as Denise McNair, 11, Carole Robertson, 14, and Cynthia Wesley, 14.

The bombing left Collins Rudolph partially blind when she lost her right eye.

The letter sent to Gov. Ivey on September 14, calls for an official apology from the State of Alabama to Ms. Collins Rudolph and seeks compensation for the decades of physical and emotional pain she has endured.

“While social justice is always a worthy cause, given recent events, now is the time for Ms. Collins Rudolph to receive long overdue justice,” the letter states. “It is a true honor and privilege to represent Ms. Collins Rudolph, who has shown exceptional courage and resilience after enduring such a terrible trauma,” said Ishan K. Bhabha, a partner at Jenner & Block in the firm’s Washington, DC office who represents Ms. Collins Rudolph pro bono.

Alison I. Stein, who also represents Ms. Collins Rudolph, added “While nothing will undo the emotional and physical pain that Ms. Collins Rudolph endured for five and a half decades, Governor Ivey and the State of Alabama now have the opportunity to aid in her healing process and to bring justice and a sense of some closure to this remarkable woman. As we said in our letter to the Governor, justice is long overdue.”

Governor Ivey sent a letter to Ishan K. Bhabha Wednesday. Ivey called September 15, 1963 one of the darkest days in Alabama’s history.

Part of the letter also reads “As you noted in your letter, ‘the State of Alabama did not place the bomb next to the church.’ For this and other reasons, many would question whether the State can be held legally responsible for what happened at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church so long ago.”

Ivey also went on to say Collins Rudolph and the four little girls killed in the bombing deserve a sincere, heartfelt apology and she extends the apology without hesitation or reservation.

Ivey proposed that her attorneys as well as attorneys for the Legislature begin discussions with Bhabha as soon as possible.

Statement from the legal team for Ms. Collins Rudolph – Ishan Bhabha and Alison Stein, Partners, Jenner & Block:

“We are gratified by Governor Ivey’s unequivocal acknowledgment of the egregious injustice that Ms. Collins Rudolph suffered, and by the Governor’s apology for the State’s racist and segregationist rhetoric and policies that led to Ms. Collins Rudolph’s injuries. We look forward to engaging in discussions in the near future with the Governor about compensation, which Ms. Collins Rudolph justly deserves after the loss of her beloved sister and for the pain, suffering and lifetime of missed opportunities resulting from the bombing.”

This is the letter from Bhabha on behalf of Sarah Collins Rudolph:

This is the letter Governor Ivey sent in response:

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