On January 26, 2017, LaGrange made history. It became one of the first–and perhaps the very first–community in the United States in which a police department apologized for its role in a lynching.
At a public event at Warren Temple United Methodist Church on January 26, 2017, Police Chief Lou Dekmar, Mayor Jim Thornton and other officials formally acknowledged and apologized for the LaGrange Police Department’s role in the lynching of Austin Callaway in 1940. “It should never have happened,” Dekmar said. Members of Callaway’s family and representatives of the local and state NAACP accepted the apology.
On behalf of the family of Austin Callaway, Deborah Tatum said, “I speak your name, Austin Callaway, and ask God for forgiveness for the people that did this inhumane thing to you.”