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Out of 422 House votes on the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, Republican Reps. Thomas Massie, Andrew Clyde and Chip Roy voted against the historic legislation. Officially named H.R. 55, the bill aims to make lynching a federal hate crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
According to NBC News, lawmakers failed to pass anti-lynching bills over 200 times since 1900 and according to the three dissenting lawmakers, race has nothing to do with it.
House member Thomas Massie (R-KY) released a statement on Twitter explaining that he voted against the bill over concerns it would impede on states’ rights and “freedom of speech.” States rights? Repeating talking points regurgitated by politicians historically against Black progress is not a dog whistle. It’s a blaring country music song blasted across the nation.
According to GOP members, lynchings are old news.
These legislators argue that lynchings have already been addressed and passing the bill would only pile on existing laws. Georgia Rep. Clyde told DailyMail.com the bill ‘falsely suggests’ lynchings are not already punished. While Blacks are routinely sentenced harsher for petty crimes, heinous crimes committed against our people like Emmett Till require that same energy.
Yet, according to TX Representative Chip Roy, “In fact, it creates no new federal offenses. It simply raises the punishment for things that are already federal crimes, including those that are unrelated to lynching — such as gender identity — in an effort to advance a woke agenda under the guise of correcting racial injustice.”
The Emmett Till Antilynching Act is expected to pass the Senate and be signed by Pres. Biden. The bill was introduced in early January by longtime Illinois Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush, who also helped Fred Hampton found the state’s Black Panther chapter.
With modern-day lynchings from Ahmaud Arbery to George Floyd and many others, Black Americans need all the federal protections available. Even though the bill was overwhelmingly approved, those three outlier votes are a stark reminder of some European mindsets, like some Ukrainian soldiers, who will never see Black life as equal, worth saving, or advocating for.