Wednesday, July 23, 2008
– Chicago Defender
DALLAS–State and federal investigators have been gathering evidence in what has been called the last documented mass lynching in the United States: the slaying of four Black people that has remained unsolved for more than 60 years.
Several items were collected on a property in rural Walton County, Ga., according to a written statement by the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Those items were taken in for further examination.
The date was July 25, 1946, when two Black sharecropper couples were shot hundreds of times and the unborn baby of one of the women sliced with a knife at Moore’s Ford Bridge.
One of the Black men had been accused of stabbing a white man 11 days earlier and was bailed out of jail by a former Ku Klux Klan member who drove the Black man, his wife, her brother and his wife to the site of the lynching.
According to a CNN report, investigators are following up on information recently received in the case, one of several revived in an effort to close old cases from the civil rights and Jim Crow eras.
“The FBI and GBI had gotten some information that we couldn’t ignore with respect to this case,” GBI spokesman John Bankhead said earlier this month.
Georgia state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, who has pushed for justice in the Moore’s Ford case for years, was encouraged by the search. “We just hope and pray they can bring some of these suspects to the bar of justice before they die because they’re all getting up in age,” said Brooks, who is also the president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials.
More fuel to the investigations came when U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., agreed to unlock a bill that would create a cold case unit at the U.S. Justice Department. The plan of action would authorize $10 million a year over the next decade for the Justice Department to create a unit prosecuting pre- 1970 civil rights cases. Another $3.5 million would go annually toward the department’s collaborative efforts with local law officials.
But before that is solidified, Coburn wants a vote on cutting Justice Department spending in other areas.
Law enforcement officials say they face a serious challenge in prosecuting the deaths of Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and May Murray-Dorsey. Many of those who opened fire are dead and most residents in the surrounding areas were silenced by federal agents sent in by then-President Harry Truman.
But Brooks said his group has identified five suspects in the slayings who are still living.
The lynchings were officially reopened for investigation by former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes over seven years ago and were on a list of revived cold cases cited by former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in early 2007.
“We can feel their (the victims’) presence when we’re there,” said Brooks. “Every time we do something, people show up that we’ve never seen before, and we know they’re not regular folks who live in Walton County. We don’t get in their way, and we don’t ask many questions.”
Special to the NNPA from the Final Call
Copyright 2008 NNPA.
SOURCE: The Chicago Defender: http://www.chicagodefender.com
Fire in a Canebrake: The Last Mass Lynching in America by Laura Wexler (Paperback – Dec 30, 2003)