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Gone but not forgotten
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More than 60 years after the murders of four black sharecroppers at Moore's Ford Bridge in Monroe - what is believed to be the last mass lynching in America - no one has ever been charged with their deaths.

Despite the wishes of some white residents, a handful of dedicated activists will not let "dead dogs lie" as one resident put it. Each year people from Atlanta, Athens and other surrounding areas, descend on Monroe to re-enact the last moments in the tragic lives of George and Mae Murray Dorsey and Roger and Dorothy Malcolm.

The Malcolms and Dorseys were murdered by a white mob after their car was stopped while crossing the Moore's Ford Bridge on July 25, 1946. The two couples were dragged beneath the bridge where mob members proceeded to shoot more than 60 bullets into their bodies.

Earlier this month the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and the FBI removed several items from a property on Michael Road in the Gratis community of Walton County. Though there are no details available about what exactly was removed, the GBI has confirmed that the items were taken as part of an investigation into the Moore's Ford killings.

"We are hopefully optimistic that the latest discovery... will be key evidence," said State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials and an organizer of the yearly re-enactment. "We are praying that this will be the year."

Though many of the lynch mob members who took part in the 1946 killings are now dead, it is believed that at least five of the FBI's original suspects are alive and living in Walton County, according to Brooks.

Brooks said he believes the evidence removed from the Michael Road property were the weapons used in the lynching. Though Brooks and others think that the yearly re-enactments and memorial services are having an effect, as demonstrated by the recent GBI search, others in Monroe wish the activists would just go away.

"I just don't think you should bring the past back by re-enacting it. It gets so twisted," said 28-year-old Monroe resident Robert Potts, who is white.

Potts, who grew up swimming by the bridge where the lynchings occurred, said if anyone was arrested for the crime, it would likely be a very expensive trial.

"It's just like me walking into a store and stealing a Snickers and you charging me for it 60 years later," Potts said, adding "It's going to cost a lot to convict them."

Potts' sentiments were echoed by several other white Monroe residents interviewed Wednesday, who all declined to give their names.

Though in the past many white residents in town have acted with indifference toward the unresolved killings, the passage of time does seem to be having an effect, especially on younger generations who grew up in the post-Civil Rights era.

Monroe resident Tyler Adams, 17, was out swimming by the bridge Friday when attracted by the noise of the re-enactment, he and several of his friends came to see what was going on.

"Sadly, it's not widely known," said Adams, who is white, of the murders. "I think more adults know about it, but they want to forget about it. I want to know more about it."

Jillian Wells, an intern with Atlanta's chapter of Women's Action for New Directions, played Mae Murray Dorsey. She said she didn't believe white residents would be so indifferent to the unsolved killings if they had had to live "with an attitude of fear" as black residents in the area have.

"It's a form of domestic terrorism and it needs to be addressed as such," Wells said of the lynchings. "This is to show [that] no human being should commit acts of pure evil with impunity."

While adults formed the large majority of the approximately 150 attendees of the re-enactment, teenagers and children were present also. After the re-enactment of the shootings, while the bodies of the four red-spattered actors lied on the ground, the children's eyes remained transfixed on them the longest.

"I thought it was very sad that they would kill innocent people," said Adrian Austin, an Eastside freshman from Newton County, who was brought to the re-enactment by her mother, Elaine.

In its fourth year, the re-enactment continues to draw mixed feelings, even among those that support an investigation into the murders. Some think it's too gruesome to revisit. Others hope that the gruesomeness of the event will be enough to, at last, jar the indifferent to calls for justice.

"It's horrible. It's gruesome, but this is what the Malcolms and Dorseys endured," Brooks said. "Some people cry [after witnessing it]. They get very emotionally upset."

Whatever some might say about the continued attention to Moore's Ford, Social Circle resident and civil rights activist Bobby Howard, who has worked to draw attention to the murders for more than 40 years, believes that it is for everyone's greater good that justice be brought-- no matter how late, to the Malcolms, Dorseys and their surviving family members.

"You wonder what they would be saying if the victims had been relatives of theirs?" Howard said of those who would rather the lynchings be left alone. "Would they be saying the same thing? They have denied the dark side of Walton County for all these years. The dark side needs to be told.

"If we allow incidents like the Moore's Ford lynching to happen and then nothing is done about it, then we have to wonder who are we, as a people and who we are as a nation," Howard said. "I think that justice really needs to be done, not just for [the victims] but for all people. If everybody would look at it like that, I think it would make us a better nation."

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