ATLANTA – Southern Christian Leadership Conference CEO Charles Steele Jr. has a stern warning for the FBI – leave State Rep. Tyrone Brooks alone.
"If they can bring about the harassment and intimidation of a man like Tyrone Brooks, just think what they can do to others," Steele said, referring to reports that FBI officials are investigating Brooks for alleged improper use of funds."We're going to show U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that intimidation of people of integrity like Tyrone Brooks will not be tolerated," he added. "If they think they saw a movement in the 1960s, we're going to make that look like a Sunday school picnic."
Federal Bureau of Investigation officials reportedly have questioned members of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials (GABEO) – which Brooks heads – about funding for the re-enactment of the 1946 Moore's Ford Bridge lynchings in Monroe, Georgia.
Brooks coordinates the annual event to spur the FBI to actively investigate one of most heinous civil rights era murders on the books. Many observers believe that some of the white killers of two black couples –including a pregnant woman – are still alive and should be brought to justice.
Georgia NAACP president Edward DuBose called the reported investigation of Brooks a "witch hunt" and said federal authorities should focus on the Moore's Ford Bridge killers, not on Brooks.
"The NAACP has coordinated quite a few organizations to speak out in support of Tyrone Brooks," he said. "We think it's a witch hunt and an effort to detract from the real issue of bringing the Moore's Ford Bridge killers to justice."
Neither the FBI nor U.S. Attorney Sally Yates' office responded this week to repeated calls for comment.
For his part, Brooks said this kind of FBI "intimidation" is nothing new.
"I understand exactly what's going on," said Brooks, a veteran civil rights activist. "I haven't been contacted by the FBI directly, but we heard about it in Quitman, Georgia at our winter conference this past weekend. And we heard that the black-owned restaurant in Athens that feeds us has also been threatened."
Brooks vows, however, that no attempt at intimidation will stop the movement.
"We still will continue our plans for our annual march across Moore's Ford Bridge on April 6," he said. "And if they kill me, Charles Steele and Edward DuBose will carry on the fight."