Congress passes Emmett Till bill to make lynching a hate crime

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WASHINGTON — Congress gave final approval on Monday to legislation that, for the first time, would make lynching a federal hate crime in the United States, sending the bill to President Joe Biden to sign into law.

After years of drafting, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act is one of nearly 200 bills introduced over the past century that have attempted to ban lynching in America.

It is named after the black teenager whose brutal murder in Mississippi in 1955 – and his mother’s insistence on an open funeral casket to show the world what had been done to her child – became a pivotal moment in the civil rights era.

“After more than 200 failed attempts to ban lynching, Congress finally succeeds in taking a long-awaited step by passing the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN. Y.

The bill would allow a crime like lynching to be prosecuted when a conspiracy to commit a hate crime results in death or serious bodily harm, according to the bill’s champion, Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. The maximum sentence under the anti-lynching law is 30 years.

The House overwhelmingly approved a similar measure in 2020, but it was stalled in the Senate.

Last week, the House overwhelmingly approved a revised version and the Senate passed the bill unanimously on Monday night.

“Lynching is a long-standing, uniquely American weapon of racial terror that has been used for decades to maintain the white hierarchy,” Rush said.

The congressman said the passage of the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act “sends a clear and emphatic message that our nation will no longer ignore this shameful chapter in our history and that the full force of the United States federal government will always be against those who commit this heinous act.

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