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Circle of fear: The Moore's Ford lynching
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Editor's note: This story contains graphic details of one of the more deplorable hate crimes in local history. The descriptions of the acts are provided unedited, just as the crimes themselves are as yet unanswered for. Reader discretion is advised.

The tranquility of the humid July evening at a quiet bridge sheltered by towering trees was abruptly shattered by cruel yells and catcalls when a mob of armed white farmers pulled two black men kicking and screaming from the car they had stopped as it attempted to cross the Moore's Ford Bridge in Monroe.

"Let the women folk go," cried George Dorsey as he and his brother-in-law Roger Malcolm were dragged from the car and pushed onto the dirt, their hands roughly tied behind their backs.

But to no avail, George's wife, Mae Murray Dorsey and his pregnant sister Dorothy Malcolm were also dragged from the car.

"Please don't hurt my baby," begged Dorothy, clutching her noticeably swollen belly.

The two couples were brought beneath the bridge and arranged in a line where they stood trembling and terrified, knowing what was about to come.

"Line 'em up boys. We're gonna kill them," ordered the leader of the mob.

 After a count of three, a barrage of bullets was released at close range into their defenseless bodies which immediately crumpled to the ground where they lay broken.

Their bloodlust not yet slaked, the mob fired upon them twice more before attacking Dorothy's belly with a knife and pulling out her unborn fetus which they quickly cast aside to lay sandwiched between the bodies of Dorothy and Mae.

According to Laura Wexler's well-researched account of the last mass lynching in America, "Fire in a Canebrake," approximately 60 bullets riddled the four bodies by the end of the shootings.

The damage from the bullets was so great that Roger Malcolm's first wife reportedly fainted dead away when she saw his body and was only able to later identify Roger by his lips. The right side of Dorothy's jaw was blown away, one of her missing teeth ended up dangling from the charm bracelet of a white girl, given to her by a University of Georgia student who was passing through Monroe and stopped at the bridge in time to collect a souvenir from the massacre.

George's right eye was shot out and his right ear only remained attached to his head by a slim piece of skin. Only Mae's face remained relatively unscathed according to Wexler's account.

Roger, the initial target of the mob's rage after he stabbed a prominent white farmer, Barnette Hester, 11 days earlier, suffered additional savagery at the hands of the mob when he was partially castrated.

The above scene re-enacted Wednesday evening at Moore's Ford Bridge occurred 61 years earlier when a car driven by white farmer Loy Harrison and carrying the Malcolms and the Dorseys on their way to Harrison's farm after he posted bond for Roger, was stopped by a lynch mob of approximately 20 white men gathered from Walton and Oconee Counties.

Local activists, both black and white, dedicated to bringing justice to the Malcolms and Dorseys, who after 61 years have yet to see anyone charged for their deaths, re-created the scene of the lynching for the third time Wednesday in what has become an annual re-enactment, drawing hundreds to the bridge each year.

The fact that Loy Harrison, who employed the Dorseys on his large farm as sharecroppers, took a 180-degree turn after initially refusing to post the $600 bond for Roger suddenly agreed to do so, that he chose to drive the long way home through a deserted stretch of the county to the bridge and that all of the men were unmasked but yet Harrison was unable to identify any of them has lead many to believe that he to was complicit in the murders.

According to Wexler's account, when investigators from the FBI and GBI came to Monroe several days after the killings, they found the crime scene picked clean by souvenir hunters and faced a deafening wall of silence from both black and white residents.

White residents kept silent because to them the murders weren't that big a deal and they didn't want to be responsible for sending their husbands, brothers, neighbors, co-workers and bosses to jail. Black residents kept silent for fear of losing their lives to further mob vengeance and from fear of losing their livelihoods after white farmers decided to kick them off their land for talking with the police.

"For many black people, the lynching was the most horrific thing that ever happened in Walton and Oconee counties, but for many white people, it was mainly an annoyance, an event that smudged the area's good name," writes Wexler in her author's note for "Fire in a Canebrake."

According to Bobby Howard, a resident and social activist from Social Circle, who has researched the Moore's Ford lynching for 40 years, there are probably two lynch mob members still alive today. But the suffocating silence which still enfolds those residents in Walton and Oconee Counties old enough to remember or to have been involved with the lynchings has resulted in no new leads in the Moore's Ford investigation despite the $27,000 award offered for information and a 2001 order by Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes to re-examine the cold case.

"The GBI continues to receive information and to follow up on all information received," said Ken Wynne, district attorney for the Alcovy Judicial Circuit and the prosecutor assigned to the case in an e-mail. "We are hopeful that we will be able to prosecute those responsible for these murders, but to date there is insufficient evidence on which to base an arrest, much less obtain an indictment."

However Howard is optimistic that by keeping the murders in the eyes of the public through yearly re-enactments and other events, younger generations living in Walton and Oconee County might be successful in convincing their older relatives to come forward with what they know about the lynchings.

"That circle of fear that they put around black people, it still exists today," said Howard. "But what I'm learning because of integration and publicity is that young white people are asking questions (to their older relatives). "From what I'm learning there is a lot of confusion."

Georgia Rep. Tyrone Brooks, who has also worked to bring attention to the case, encouraged the gathered crowd Wednesday to contribute more money to the award fund, saying that people with information of the crime were more likely to come forward if the award were to rise to $100,000.

Persons with information regarding the lynchings can contact the GBI at (404) 244-2600.