ATLANTA - Members of a civil rights group that has pushed for years to reopen investigations into the decades-old lynching at Moore's Ford Bridge near Monroe said Friday they are pleased that the U.S. Department of Justice has decided to take another look.
"You just feel like the rule of law is going to prevail," said state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta and the president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials.
The group has pushed since at least 1998 for new investigations into killings of two black couples - George and Mae Murray Dorsey and Roger and Dorothy Malcom - in the summer of 1946.
Mr. Brooks said his group has been aware for more than a year that the FBI was looking into the Moore's Ford case again but kept quiet to avoid interfering.
But at a news conference Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller announced the Justice Department was reopening investigations of some civil rights-era killings, including Moore's Ford.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation reopened its investigation several years ago on the orders of then-Gov. Roy Barnes.
Mr. Brooks said local activists have kept up with at least five living suspects named in the original FBI report after the killings.
Mr. Brooks' group and local organizations have also been talking to witnesses who have come forward in recent years.
"We're going to be making an appeal to the suspects to turn themselves in and avoid a long ordeal," Mr. Brooks said. "If we know of five, obviously the law enforcement community could know of many more than we do."
Mr. Brooks also said the group is working to boost its reward fund for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those guilty of the murders, currently at $27,000, to $100,000.
The black officials' association also announced its annual April 4 commemoration of the lynchings to coincide with the anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and its July 25 re-enactment of the killings.
Mr. Brooks said one of the living suspects usually drives his pickup across the bridge during the re-enactments.
"He drives across real slow and he'll look at us, and we'll look back," Mr. Brooks said.
Reach Brandon Larrabee at (678) 977-3709 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials is asking witnesses or those who have information about the 1946 lynchings at Moore's Ford Bridge to come forward.
The association can be reached by phone at (404) 656-6372 and (404) 372-1894, or through its Web site, www.gabeo.org.