Designate Lynching as a Federal Hate Crime

HR 35, the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, is long overdue legislation that would make lynching a hate crime under federal law. The designation would ensure that the crime of lynching would be eligible for the additional tools and resources used to investigate and prosecute hate crimes, and trigger enhanced sentencing upon conviction.

At least 4,742 people, predominantly African Americans, were reported lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1968, while 99% of all perpetrators escaped any form of punishment. A statement of support by the NAACP stresses “the crime of lynching continued even after slavery had been abolished as the ultimate expression of racism, hatred and domestic terrorism in the United States. For over a century, it has been used to kill, terrorize and intimidate African Americans and the communities in which we live. It is a horrific form of torture, murder, and intimidation.”

In February, the Senate passed S. 488, the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, which also makes lynching a hate crime. It is now up to the House to pass similar legislation to send to the president for final approval.

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