The Emmett Till Antilynching Act is Passed

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Winta Tekle, Sahuaro News Editor

The House of Representatives approved H.R. 35, a bill making lynching a federal crime for the first time in U.S. history.

Named after Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy murdered in 1955 for allegedly flirting with a white woman in Mississippi, the bill is the first of its kind to be passed through the House. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act, introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, passed with an overwhelming 410-4 vote. The bill aims to hold individuals who participate in mob mentality to justice for the victims of egregious acts of racism, like Till and the other 4,000 victims of lynching, who are disproportionately black.

Rep. Bobby Rush said this bill will finally outlaw¬†“an American evil.” He goes on to say that “today, we send a strong message that violence — and race-based violence, in particular –has no place in America.”

The 4 votes against it come from Independent Rep. Justin Amash and Republican Reps. Louie Gohmert, Thomas Massie, and Ted Yoho. Massie, in defense of his vote, says that “In addition, this bill expands current federal ‘hate crime’ laws. A crime is a crime, and all victims deserve equal justice. Adding enhanced penalties for ‘hate’ tends to endanger other liberties such as freedom of speech.”

Antilynching bills such as H.R. 35 have made its rounds across Congress–since 1900, antilynching bills have been considered roughly 200 times. Two years ago, though, the Senate passed the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, introduced by Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Tim Scott, with bipartisan support.

Both bills–H.R. 35 and Justice for Victims of Lynching act– are waiting to be signed into law by President Trump.