Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | November 6, 2018 – On November 5, the daughter of Alex Odeh, Ms. Helena Odeh, and Mr. Samer Khalaf, President of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), testified at the parole hearing of Robert Manning who is the primary suspect in the assassination of Mr. Odeh, ADC’s Southern California Regional Director. Mr. Odeh was murdered by a pipe bomb that exploded upon him entering the ADC office on October 11, 1985, in Santa Ana, California. Also providing a victim statement at the parole hearing was the daughter of Ms. Patricia Wilkerson, Ms. Pamela Wilkerson Thierry; Manning is currently in prison for the murder of Patricia.
During the hearing, Ms. Odeh delivered a statement alongside Mr. Khalaf, about the severe trauma and impact that Mr. Odeh’s murder has had on his family, loved ones, the American Arab community at large, and the entire nation.
To this day, over three decades later, we are still waiting and pursuing justice for this racially-motivated assassination of a civil rights leader. Manning has refused to cooperate with law enforcement regarding the murder of Mr. Odeh. There has yet to be a conviction for this terrorist act, and the case is still an open investigation.
While the Arab American community lost a hero and our nation lost a civil rights leader, for Ms. Odeh and her two sisters the loss of their father is immeasurable. In her statement, Ms. Odeh shared the personal impact the vicious murder of her father continues to have on her and her sisters and mother:
“I grew up seeing all of my friends with their fathers, wishing I had my dad with me by my side. I was never able to go to a father-daughter dance, he was not there to see us graduate, walk us down the aisle when we got married, or here to meet his grandchildren. Manning stole from us irreplaceable memories but most importantly our time and relationship with our own dad. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my father or wished that he was still here with us. Our lives changed forever in the most tragic way. We deserve justice, our father deserves justice, and our community deserves justice. Our father was a man who stood up for civil rights, nonviolence, and peace. We look to you today to ensure that the person who murdered our father is held accountable.”
Speaking in the hearing, Mr. Khalaf re-affirmed the necessity for accountability emphasizing that raced-based hateful violence cannot be tolerated by the US criminal justice system in any way:
“At a time when we are witnessing a rise in hate-based crimes, we look to our judicial and court system to protect those at risk and are vulnerable. Thirty-three years ago, Manning committed an act of terror that traumatized a community and a nation. To this day, Mr. Odeh’s family, loved ones, including his wife and three daughters, have not witnessed justice for this heinous crime against their family. You [the Parole Board] have the opportunity to give the Arab American community and all those who are victims of race-based violence and terrorism hope that the United States will stay true to the value that all are created equal.”
ADC alongside the family, friends, and community of Mr. Odeh, remain steadfast in our pursuit for justice. We are reassured that the US Parole Commission will deny Manning’s application for parole and that we will see justice prevail.