It happened 50 miles east of the Wendy’s on University Ave in Atlanta. Just shy of 74 years ago, two black couples were forced out of their car by a mob of armed white men, tied up with rope, and then shot 60 or so times at close range in what’s known as the Moore’s Ford lynchings.
Those murders are still unsolved, and reversing a ruling by a federal judge, the 11th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in March that federal grand jury secrecy cannot be pierced on that authority. The records remain sealed and stored in the U.S. Archives.
Roger and Dorothy Malcom, and George and Mae Murray Dorsey did not deserve to die. They were killed because they were black, and because Eugene Talmadge, former governor, was running for the Democratic nomination in a white, Dixiecrat state.
Talmadge has long been linked to the lynchings. Roger Malcom was in jail for allegedly stabbing a white man named Barnette Hester, and some witnesses believe they saw Talmadge talking to Barnette’s brother Georgia in front of the Walton County courthouse in Monroe, saying he would “take care of the Negro” if the influential Hesters would help him win in Walton County.
After Malcom’s employer drove to the courthouse to pay his bail and return him to work as a sharecropper, a gang of 15 to 20 armed men blocked his car, and then proceeded to murder the two couples in cold blood. After Democrats blocked President Truman’s anti-lynching legislation, demonstrators marched outside the White House in 1946.
At the funeral for the Dorseys, George’s coffin received military honors, as he was a WWII veteran. Local black residents reportedly stayed away in fear, while the national media covered the event.
For 73 years, southern white Democrats covered the tracks of the Walton County lynchings.
And now, in a similar vein, a black District Attorney in Fulton County is attempting to railroad a white police officer for murder. DA Paul Howard is under criminal investigation for diverting nearly 80 percent of a $250,000 payment by the City of Atlanta to his office from crime prevention programs into his own pockets.
He is also in a very close runoff election with Fani Willis, who received 42 percent of the vote on June 9, beating Howard, who received 35 percent, by over 12,000 votes. Howard apparently thinks that charging white officer Garrett Rolfe with the murder of Rayshard Brooks, a black man, will improve his chances in the August 11 runoff.
The GBI had no prior knowledge of the charges Howard was filing, according to their own tweet.
Howard took only three days to consider the evidence before announcing the charges. Since they have been announced, Atlanta Police Department officers have begun a “blue flu” rolling sick call, especially hard on some of the more crime-ridden zones of the city.
In response, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has announced a $500 bonus for every officer to “stem attrition and boost morale.” This could cost the city more than $2 million.
On Thursday, [Rodney] Bryant, the interim chief, told the Associated Press that officers were still calling in sick.
“Some are angry. Some are fearful. Some are confused on what we do in this space. Some may feel abandoned,” Bryant said. “But we are there to assure them that we will continue to move forward and get through this.”Every Atlanta police officer gets $500 bonus from foundation to ‘boost morale’ as sick-outs continue, Washington Post, June 19, 2020
A cynical eye might see officers being paid off to look the other way while a brother in blue is lynched to scratch a racial and political itch of an ambitious (and possibly rapacious) district attorney.
Eugene Talmadge campaigned on his dedication to keeping white people on top, which is itself a wholly despicable and benighted philosophy, which so many men and women, both black and white, have fought for a century to overturn.
Paul Howard is betraying those who fought for civil rights, by taking political advantage of a mob willing to inflict its vengeance upon a man who, though he may be guilty of something, is almost certainly not deserving of felony murder charges.
The next steps for Howard, should he win his runoff, would be to pack a jury with like-minded individuals who would turn their heads from justice to see vengeance done. They would lynch Rolfe with the same calculated coverup perpetrated by that gang in Walton County: with payoffs, fear, and intimidation.
And if Rolfe walks free, they will riot, not for the justice and equality that Martin Luther King fought for, but for their own supremacy over the descendants of people who wronged their ancestors. They would trade a century of work, and blood, to eliminate racism–which is now scrubbing even the most innocuous and embedded offenses, Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima, from our culture–for a moment of knowing how it feels to be the lynchers, versus the lynched.
I can tell them how it will feel. Guilty.
It’s better that DA Howard repents now and calls for the mob to trade its Molotov cocktails for prayer, and its vengeance for grace.
We don’t have to avenge old lynchings with new lynchings.