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President Biden signed into law Tuesday a bill with overwhelming bipartisan support that would make lynching a federal hate crime.
After almost 200 attempts in Congress to try and get anti-lynching legislation passed, a bill has finally passed cementing it into law.
The Emmett Till Antilynching Act was named after the 14-year-old boy who was lynched by a mob of White men in Mississippi in 1955. Roy Bryant and J.W. Miliam abducted and brutally murdered the young boy for allegedly whistling at a White woman. The men shot and mutilated Emmett before throwing his body in the Tallahatchie River.
“It took almost a hundred years and 200 failed attempts for our society’s representation to agree lynching should be illegal. At a time when hate crimes have been getting worse and worse, when division is spiking, when people feel the least protected by the Justice system we decided to pass a law that gives the Justice system the ability to do something right,” said Joshua Harris-Till told The Black Wall Street Times. He’s a cousin of Emmett Till who is running for Congress in Oklahoma.
“We have no clue if this will lead to actual change, but we’re forced to be excited that a bill that should’ve been passed before many of us were born is now [law],” Harris-Till added.
Historic moment: Emmett Till AntiLynching Act becomes law
The bill makes it possible to prosecute a crime as a lynching when a conspiracy to commit a hate crime results in death or serious bodily injury, according to the bill’s champion, Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. The maximum sentence under the Anti-Lynching Act is 30 years.
“Lynching is a longstanding and uniquely American weapon of racial terror that has for decades been used to maintain the white hierarchy,” Rep. Rush said.
Lynching was a terror tactic used against African Americans, particularly in the racially segregated South. According to Tuskegee University, which collects records on lynchings, 4,743 people were lynched from 1882 to 1968 and 3,446 of them were African Americans.
The President and Vice President Kamala Harris both delivered remarks on the new law from the Rose Garden at the White House.