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DeKalb NAACP Installs Lynching Memorial In Downtown Decatur

The DeKalb branch of the NAACP installed a marker to memorialize African American victims of lynching in the area. Troy Vincent, D.E. Smith and Teresa Hardy stand with the marker outside the historic courthouse in downtown Decatur.
The DeKalb branch of the NAACP installed a marker to memorialize African American victims of lynching in the area. Troy Vincent, D.E. Smith and Teresa Hardy stand with the marker outside the historic courthouse in downtown Decatur.
Credit Courtesy of DeKalb NAACP

After delays because of COVID-19 and more than a year of build-up, a historic marker that memorializes African American lynching victims in DeKalb County now sits in downtown Decatur.

The marker stems from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opened in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, in 2018. Built by the legal nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative, the site memorializes lynching victims nationwide. It’s the first of its kind to reckon with America’s notorious history of lynching, slavery and segregation.

The DeKalb branch of the NAACP collaborated with the EJI to bring its own marker back to Atlanta. The branch also played a huge role in getting the DeKalb commissioners to approve the marker in January 2019.

But in light of the Ahmaud Arbery case, DeKalb NAACP President Teresa Hardy said this marker isn’t nearly enough.

“We are installing a marker that memorializes people who are lynched that didn’t have an opportunity for justice, and that’s why it sits in front of the courthouse,” Hardy said.

“That same type of mentality of lynching is still going on today.”

Hardy spoke with “Morning Edition” host Lisa Rayam about the recent video obtained by the Guardian that shows Glynn County police trying to search Arbery’s parked car in 2017.

In the video, a police officer claims he wants to search the car because it’s parked in an area known for drug activity. When Arbery refuses and begins to walk back to his car, another officer, who arrived at the scene later, tries to tase him. The taser malfunctions and Arbery is ordered onto the ground.

Police also pat Arbery down in the video, while telling him that this action is not a “search,” but a “check for weapons.”

Attorneys for Arbery’s parents said Tuesday that the body camera video shows Arbery being harassed by the same police department that declined to arrest his killers.

Lily Oppenheimer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.