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Friday, July 26, 2013

9th annual Moore's Ford Bridge Lynching reenactment takes place on Saturday

Representative Tyrone Brooks speaking at Thursdays news conference.
  • Joeff Davis
  • State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, speaking at Thursday's news conference.

Yesterday, on the 67th anniversary of the Moore's Ford Bridge Lynching, a group led by state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, gathered underneath the Eugene Talmadge statue at the Gold Dome to announce the 9th annual reenactment of the violent lynching, which takes place this Saturday in Monroe.

On July 25, 1946, a local white farmer named Loy Harrison bailed out Roger Malcolm at the Walton County Jail in Monroe. Malcolm, who was black, was in jail for stabbing a white farmer days earlier. With Harrison were Malcolm's wife, Dorothy, and George Dorsey and his wife, Mae Murray.

On the way back from the jail, the car was stopped by a mob near the Moore's Ford Bridge. All four African-Americans were taken into a field, tied up, and shot more then 60 times. Harrison, the only white person in the vehicle, was unharmed and later claimed he was unable to identify any of the killers. The story provoked national headlines, leading President Harry Truman to dispatch Federal Bureau of Investigation agents to the county.

The case has never been solved.

Recently, the killings attracted the attention of law students involved with Syracuse University's Cold Case Justice Initiative. Some students are in Georgia looking into the case and other suspicious civil rights deaths throughout the state. Their research is boosted by the Emmet Till Bill, named after the Chicago African-American youth who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly flirting with a white woman. The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008 and allocates money to the Department of Justice to investigate unsolved Civil Rights murders that took place before 1970.

Lauren Atwater, one of the students working on the project, says the number of suspicious cases the group has found in metro Atlanta alone is "50 and growing." Those include crimes that they think might have been committed by the Ku Klux Klan and cases involving suspicious suicides that were never investigated.

This year's Moore's Ford Bridge lynching reenactment follows the indictment of Brooks, who has been organizing the events for the last nine years. Brooks was indicted this spring on federal charges which accuse him of using money he raised for charities for his personal expenses. Brooks says the indictment is the result of his years of work on the Moore's Ford Bridge investigation and his calls for justice in the case. He questions why so much time is being spent investigating him rather then looking into the killing of the Dorseys and the Malcolms. [Disclosure: Brooks and I worked together to try and remove a statue from the Capitol grounds.]

Before Thursday's news conference, he declined to take questions about the investigation, saying only that "anyone can make an accusation against you." He referred questions about the case to former Gov. Roy Barnes, who is representing Brooks in the case. Barnes has said that the case is result of poor bookkeeping rather then criminal intent.

On Thursday, Brooks compared the effort to find the suspects involved in the Moore's Ford Bridge murders to the continuing search for former Nazis.

"Just like our friends in Germany say, wherever those Nazis are living, whatever their age, they should be brought to justice," he said.

The role of the head Klansman at Saturday's reenactment, for the sixth straight year, is played by Wade Marbaugh, who works at Georgia Perimeter College. He says his involvement in the reenactment has allowed him to "bond with the victims."

"You want the young people to know this history and to make sure it does not happen again, " he said. "Someone should be accountable for these horrible crimes."

Here's a schedule of Saturday's reenactment events.

Saturday, July 27, 2013:

Noon, 1st African Baptist Church, 130 Tyler Street, Monroe, GA 30655 (Highway 11, Across from Church's Chicken) Church opens at noon for Meditation and Prayers for Justice and Pre-Reenactment Rally

Reenactment Timeline:

1:00 p.m. Leave 1st African Baptist Church for Visitation of the Malcom and Dorsey Gravesites
4:45 p.m. Arrive at the Farm House of Barney Hester, 2932 Hester Town Road (This is where the altercation occurred leading to the arrest of Roger Malcom, Sunday, July 14, 1946.)
5 p.m. Leave Barney Hester's House
5:15 p.m. Arrive at the Old County Jail, 203 Milledge Avenue, Downtown Monroe (Place where Roger Malcom was held for 11 days.)
5:30 p.m. Leave the Jail en route to the Moore's Ford Bridge (This is the exact time that Loy Harrison (white farmer) took the Malcoms and the Dorseys from the jail)
6 p.m. Arrive at the Moore's Ford Bridge for the Reenactment Ceremony and Call for Justice: Arrest and Prosecution Now!!
7 p.m. Benediction: At the Historic Memorial Marker Dedicated to the Legacy of: Roger and Dorothy Malcom (and Justice, unborn infant), George and Mae Murray Dorsey. And a Challenge to Us All to Continue Our Quest and Pursuit of Justice.

Note: There is a $35,000 Reward for information that leads to the Arrest and Prosecution of the Killers. If You Have Information of the Lynchings, Please Contact: The GBI - 404-244-2600 or the FBI - 404-679- 9000.

For More Information Contact: Rep. Tyrone Brooks, President, Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, 404-656-6372 or 404-372-1894, or visit our Web site: www.ga-gabeo.com

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