Civil Activists seek justice in 1946 lynchings of innocent couples

By Sinclere Lee

ATLANTA, Georgia (BNW) --
Nearly six decades ago, a mob of white men lynched two black couples. No one was ever prosecuted. This is also the case of 10s of thousands of Black Americans who were lynched in this country from reconstruction up until recent years.

The killings, though, have not been forgotten. Civil rights activists who first came together in the late 1990s to commemorate the victims are now focused on bringing the killers to justice.

They hope to bolster their efforts by sharing with the public exactly how the couples -- Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and Mae Murray Dorsey -- were gunned down on July 25, 1946, along the Apalachee River in Walton County, about 40 miles east of Atlanta.

The Malcoms and Dorseys, who were sharecroppers, were riding with a white farmer when between 20 and 25 white men stopped the car on the Moore's Ford bridge, according to the FBI's 500-page synopsis of the case. The mob forced the couples out of the car, dragged them down a wagon trail 50 yards from the bridge and shot them with pistols and shotguns. The farmer, Loy Harrison, was spared.

A recounting of the story is scheduled for April 1 at the Walton County Courthouse; the next day, the activists will lead a 2 1/2-mile march to the crime scene.

The group, named Moore's Ford Memorial Committee, sent a letter to the Walton County prosecutor last week asking him to seek indictments for the killings. The prosecutor, District Attorney Ken Wynne, said he needs new evidence before he can do that.

"What happened in the Moore's Ford case was a horrible, horrible crime, and if there is anyone with knowledge of what happened or who did it, we would welcome them coming forward," Wynne said.

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, a longtime civil rights activist and honorary member of the memorial committee, said the FBI and Georgia Bureau of Investigation's reports on the lynchings provide ample evidence to seek indictments against those suspects who are still living.

The state agency, which originally investigated the crime, conducted a fresh probe in 2001 at the behest of then Gov. Roy Barnes. It considers the case open but unsolved.

"Obviously, if there weren't a need for additional evidence, someone would've been charged already," Wynne said.

Committee members have long complained about local residents' reticence toward the case. Andy Sheldon, a lawyer who will lead the forum next month, said their behavior is not surprising.

Sheldon, a jury consultant in the decades-old cases of the Birmingham, Alabama, church bombing and the assassination of Mississippi activist Medgar Evers, said sentiments often shift after cases reach a courtroom. Prosecutors won convictions in those cases.

"There are people in all races that think these suspects have been out for 40 years and have suffered enough," Sheldon said, but "there tends to be an apparent tidal shift in attitudes after one of these cases is tried."

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