Saturday, March 1, 2014

New information to be presented in unsolved Georgia lynching case

Posted By on Sat, Mar 1, 2014 at 10:13 AM

The Moores Ford Bridge

Last year, between Christmas and New Year's Eve, a small group of 13 people gathered at the First African Baptist Church in Monroe, Ga. There, in the church's fellowship room, the group watched riveted as a video was shown publicly for the first time that civil rights activists and citizens say could help finally solve the 67-year-old Moore's Ford Bridge lynching case.

On Tuesday, that video will be shown to the elected officials who have jurisdiction over the county where the lynching occurred.

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 home 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 than 60 times. Harrison, the only white person in the vehicle, was unharmed. He 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.

The video that was shown in the church late last year was an April 2013 interview of a 55-year-old local white man by then-NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous. Jealous had traveled to Monroe to speak at the annual march on the Moores Ford Bridge. Since 2004, the annual march has been held on the anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination to commemorate the lynching and as a prelude to the reenactment of the killing which takes place in July at the site of the killing.

Before Jealous gave his speech, a man entered the church and said he had some information about the lynching. The video was shot while Jealous interviewed the man for about a half an hour. The man claimed that more than 12 local men, including his deceased uncle, were members of the Ku Klux Klan. Some of those men, he alleged, were part of the mob that killed the Malcolms and the Dorseys in 1946. Many of the people he named are dead. But a few, he said, were still living and he gave their addresses. (CL attended the late-December screening. CL is choosing not to release the man's name because he claims he has been threatened in the past.)

"He was very credible," said Ron Brown, the deacon of the church where the video was shown and a longtime champion of finding the killers. "He did not stumble, he did not stammer. When he did not know something, he said he did not know."

Ed Dubose, the recently retired president of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP and a NAACP board member says that the video has been sent to the Justice department but as far as he knows there has never been any follow up or other action taken.

"All these people they could investigate and they are not doing anything with it, " he said.

Dubose says that the people who are named in the video and still living should be interviewed by Attorney General Eric Holder's office. If the information is determined to be credible, as he believes it is, the living people should be prosecuted.

A phone call to the U.S. Department of Justice's civil rights division was not returned. The U.S. Attorney's office for the Middle District of Georgia declined to comment.

"At this time this office is not in a position to make any comment," Assistant United States Attorney G. F. "Pete" Peterman, III said in an email.

"My interest is justice for the victims who are dead " said state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, and president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, which sponsors the annual lynching reenactments. "I hope at the end of the hearing the commissioners will request a full scale congressional investigation and a special prosecutor that will answer only to Congress. That would send a very strong message from the county."

The video will be shown at The Walton County Board of Commissioners this Tuesday, March 4, at 6 p.m. at 303 South Hammond Dr. in Monroe. The meeting is open to the public.

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