House Approves Bill To Make Lynching A Federal Hate Crime After 120 Years Of Fighting
Members of Congress have been attempting to pass a law that would make lynching a federal hate-crime since at least 1900.
For over 120 years, the House and Senate repeatedly have derailed these efforts – around 200 times – blocking, shelving and ignoring them, until Wednesday when the anti-lynching bill passed in the House.
The measure is expected to move into the Senate, and President Donald Trump plans to sign the bill into law.
The measure, introduced in a House bill by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Illinois), comes 65 years after 14-year-old Emmett Till was lynched in Mississippi. The proposed legislation, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, is named after Till.
Till was one of the thousands of lynching victims from the Jim Crow Era. He was brutally tortured and gang-murdered by white supremacists in 1955. The bill describes lynching as “a pernicious and pervasive tool” that was often carried out “by multiple offenders and groups rather than isolated individuals.”
Till was killed after a white woman accused him of making suggestive whistles in her direction at a grocery store in Mississippi.
The two white men who murdered Till were acquitted by an all-white jury.
The roots of the Jim Crow Laws stem from the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery. Upon the ratification of the amendment, in 1865, and enacted after the Civil War, white supremacists passed statewide black and white codes, which restricted and took away the rights of African Americans in the South.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California), a former presidential candidate who dropped out of the race in December, introduced the bill in the Senate last year, and it passed unanimously. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) also assisted in the Senate’s anti-lynching bill introduction.
In the court of law, lynching had been viewed tantamount to murder and prosecuted on a state or local level, but the new law would make it a federal hate crime.
“We are one step closer to finally outlawing this heinous practice and achieving justice for over 4,000 victims of lynching,” Rush said in a statement when a House announced the vote last week.
“From Charlottesville to El Paso, we are still being confronted with the same violent racism and hatred that took the life of Emmett and so many others,” he said, referring to white supremacist rallies in Virginia in 2017 and a mass shooting in Texas last year in which the authorities said Latinos were targeted.”
“The passage of this bill will send a strong and clear message to the nation that we will not tolerate this bigotry.”