Congress gives final approval to make lynching a hate crime

WASHINGTON – The Senate unanimously approved a bill it would make lynching a federal hate crime, explicitly criminalizing a heinous act...


WASHINGTON – The Senate unanimously approved a bill it would make lynching a federal hate crime, explicitly criminalizing a heinous act that has become a symbol of the country’s history of racial violence.

It was a remarkable moment after more than a century of failed attempts. The landmark bill is named after Emmett Till, the 14-year-old black boy tortured and murdered in Mississippi in 1955. Under the measure, the crime is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

“Hallelujah – this is long overdue,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Majority Leader, who oversaw the passage of the legislation in a sparsely packed chamber Monday night. He added: “The fact that it’s taken so long is a stain, a bitter stain on America.”

Without any senator showing up to oppose it, the bill was approved by the Senate without a formal vote. The measure is now heading to President Biden’s office for his signature, after adopted in the House at the end of February with only three opposing legislators.

“While no amount of legislation will reverse the pain and fear felt by these victims, their loved ones, and Black communities, this legislation is a necessary step that America must take to heal from the racial violence that has permeated its history.” , said Sen. Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey and a sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement Monday.

The failure to pass such a measure before this year had become a glaring example of the nation’s inadequate response to a crime that has long terrorized black Americans. The NAACP estimated, based on his recordingsthat black victims accounted for 72% of the 4,743 lynchings that occurred between 1882 and 1968.

“This is the year, this is the time, that we do the right thing,” said Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican and longtime advocate for the legislation, in a passionate speech on the Senate floor Thursday. “Not for Republicans or Democrats, but for Americans who have watched with puzzled eyes and confused hearts as their government fails again and again and again on issues important to them. Let this be the year we put politics aside and we make it happen.

Representing George Henry White from North Carolina first legislation introduced making lynching a hate crime in 1900; he was the only black legislator in Congress at the time. The bill was never brought to the House for a vote. In the years that followed, more than 200 similar bills were introduced, lawmakers estimated.

In 2005, the Senate formally apologized for his failure to act on the issue, including when Southern senators blocked similar legislation during the Jim Crow era. More than a decade later, three black senators — Mr. Scott, Mr. Booker and Kamala Harris of California — have begun to push through an anti-lynching measure again.

As racial justice protests swept the country in the summer of 2020 following the killings of black men and women by police officers and white civilians, the three senators renewed their efforts to pass the measure.

But Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, opposed the accelerated passage at the time, saying the legislation was too broad and had not been passed by the Senate. In an opinion piece published this month, he described the negotiation of a revised version of the legislation, which notably specifies “death or serious bodily harm” resulting from the breach.

“Our partnership has worked through deep mutual respect and a shared goal to right historic wrongs without inadvertently creating new victims,” Mr. Paul wrote, pointing to Mr. Booker.

Passing the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support, Booker said in his statement, “underscores the importance of meeting this moment, reckoning with the past, and finally being able to say we did the right thing.” .

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Newsrust - US Top News: Congress gives final approval to make lynching a hate crime
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