US House Passes Anti-Lynching Bill After More Than 100 Years Of Failure
In 1955, Emmett Till was horrifically lynched to death. Only now, 65 years later, has the US House of Representatives approved a bill designating the heinous act as a hate crime.
Lynching is the premeditated, violent, extrajudicial punishment of someone for an alleged offence. This was the fate of Till, a 14-year-old African American boy, who was brutally murdered in Mississippi after ‘flirting’ with a white woman in a local store.
It’s now been 120 years since Congress first considered the issue, with ‘hundreds’ of similar attempts at legislation having been shot down. The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act was overwhelming approved at 410-4 – with three Republicans and one Independent voting against the bill.
President Donald Trump is soon expected to sign the bill, which designates lynching as a federal hate crime punishable by up to life in prison, a fine, or both (the Senate also passed its own anti-lynching law last year, albeit it wasn’t named after Till).
Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush, the Democrat who introduced the bill, hopes it will act as some form of justice for the thousands of lynching victims, most of them African Americans.
Rush, who’s also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, told NBC News:
The importance of this bill cannot be overstated. 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. The passage of this bill will send a strong and clear message to the nation that we will not tolerate this bigotry.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, who covers the area in which Till was killed, echoed Rush’s sentiments, saying: ‘No matter the length of time, it is never too late to ensure justice is served.’
Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, said: ‘Make no mistake, lynching is terrorism. While this reign of terror has faded, the most recent lynching [in the US] happened less than 25 years ago.’
Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida, one of the Republicans who voted against the bill, said while he will continue to condemn the ‘horrific act of lynching’, he believes the legislation to be a ‘government overreach’.
Yoho told Newsweek: ‘This bill today is an overreach of the federal government and encroaches on the principles of federalism. Hate crimes fall under the jurisdiction of states, which has led to 46 states producing various hate crime statutes. In my home state of Florida, these crimes are already under state government jurisdiction and are punishable up to death.’
It is hoped that Trump will formally sign the bill into law before the end of Black History Month.
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