Lynching is now a federal hate crime in the United States.
After almost 120 years since Congress first considered passing the anti-lynching law, it finally passed with a vote of 410 to four in the House. The four House lawmakers who voted against passing the bill were Republicans Louie Gohmert of Texas, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Ted Yoho of Florida, and Independent Justin Amash of Michigan.
The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act is now on its way to the White House, where President Trump is expected to sign it.
Emmett Till was abducted, brutally tortured and lynched in 1955 after a white woman accused the 14-year-old black boy of whistling at her and grabbing her in a Mississippi grocery store. His murder shocked the country and helped spark the Civil Rights Movement.
“The importance of this bill cannot be overstated,’’ said Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush. “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.”
“Lynchings were horrendous, racist acts of violence,” Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris said in a statement. “For far too long Congress has failed to take a moral stand and pass a bill to finally make lynching a federal crime. This justice is long overdue.”
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker called lynching “a pernicious tool of racialized violence, terror and oppression” and “a stain on the soul of our nation.’’ He said that while Congress can’t undo the damage that lynching has caused, ”we can ensure that we as a country make clear that lynching will not be tolerated.”
Questlove reacted sarcastically to the news of lynching becoming a federal hate crime on Twitter. He tweeted, “Awww how nice: Lynching just got voted as a federal crime guys! Yay.”