U.S. President Joe Biden signed a law making lynching a federal hate crime. The law follows more than 100 years and 200 failed attempts by U.S. lawmakers to pass anti-lynch laws. Emmett Till’s anti-lynching law was named after a black teenager whose brutal murder in Mississippi in 1955 ignited the civil rights movement. Those convicted of lynching — death or injury resulting from a hate crime — face 30 years in prison.
. “The failure to pass this legislation into law over the past few decades is an embarrassment to our nation and a disservice to communities of colour,” US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “Today’s action righting that wrong is long overdue.”
“Thank you for never giving up, never giving up,” Biden said. “The lynching is purely to reinforce the lie that not everyone belongs to America, not everyone is created equal.” He added: “Race Hate is not an old problem, but an ongoing one.
The bill was unanimously passed by the Senate earlier this month. The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favour of the bill last month. Three Republicans voted no: Thomas Massey of Kentucky, Chip Roy of Texas, and Andrew Clyde of Georgia.
They argued that lynching people in the United States was already a hate crime. Lynching is killing by a mob without due process or the rule of law. In the United States, thousands of people, primarily African Americans, were lynched by white mobs, often through hanging or torture, in the 19th and 20th centuries. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, approximately 4,400 African Americans were lynched between 1877 and 1950.
Those involved in lynchings are often celebrated and go unpunished. “Lynching is a long-standing and uniquely American weapon of racial terror that has been used for decades to maintain the white hierarchy,” said the bill’s sponsor, Congressman Bobby Rush of Illinois, before it was approved. In 2020, after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, the House passed an earlier version of the bill, but it was rejected in the Senate. Many racial justice advocates have described Floyd’s death and Ahmad Arbery, who was hunted down and killed by three white men in Georgia in 2020, as modern-day lynchings.