A piece of legislation passed through the House yesterday (February 26th), formally classifying lynching as a federal hate crime. The bill is named after Emmett Till, the 14-year-old black teenager who was brutally murdered by a white mob in Mississippi in 1955. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL).
Rush said in a statement, “Today, we send a strong message that violence — and race-based violence, in particular — has no place in America.” He added, “Thank you to my colleagues in the House & Senate who have joined me to correct this injustice. #OutlawLynching.”
This marks the first successful attempt of an anti-lyinching bill to pass through Congress since 1900. In 2018 the Senate passed legislation making lynching a federal hate crime, but it did not pass through the lower chamber.
Although the House approved the Emmett Till Antilynching Act 410 to 4, Madamenoire reported that there were four representatives who voted against the bill: Independent Rep. Justin Amash (MI) and GOP Reps. Louie Gohmert (TX), Thomas Massie (KY) and Ted Yoho (FL).
Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus said on the floor ahead of the vote, “Today the House will pass the Emmett Till Antilynching Act and designate lynching as a hate crime under federal law. But we must admit, it is a travesty that it has taken 120 years for the U.S. government to address this crime. In fact, the first bill to outlaw lynching was introduced in 1900. Make no mistake, lynching is terrorism.”
The new legislation is expected to pass in the Senate by the end of the week and then will have to be signed by the president in the White House.