Biden signs bill declaring federal hate crime lynching to be a federal offense

Tuesday's signing by President Biden of a bill making lynching a federal hate offense was a result of Congress failing more than 200 times in its efforts to pass anti-lynching legislation. 

Biden signs bill declaring federal hate crime lynching to be a federal offense

To mark the signing, Vice President Kamala Harris and Mr. Biden spoke in the White House Rose Garden.

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act was named after Emmett Till. He was a 14-year-old boy who was beaten to death in Mississippi in 1955. The Senate approved the bill unanimously on March 7, just one month after it was passed by the House.

"It was more than 100 years ago in 1900 that a North Carolina representative named George Henry White (the son of a slave) introduced the first legislation to make lynching criminal," Mr. Biden stated. "Hundreds, if not hundreds, of similar bills have failed. There have been many federal hate crime laws over the years. I signed one last year to combat COVID-19 hate crime. However, no federal law -- none federal law -- explicitly prohibited lynching. Until today."

Tuskegee University tracks the history and occurrences of lynchings. It estimates that more than 4,700 people were killed between 1882 and 1968, a majority of which were Black Americans. Lynchings were especially common in the racially divided South. Till was one of these. Till's family members stood beside Mr. Biden Tuesday.

He said to them, "Thank you for never giving in, never giving up,"

Harris thanked Till's family members and Congressmen for inviting them to this event.

Harris stated that "Lynching -- We know it's an affront to the history of this nation." In the century that followed the Civil War, hundreds of innocent people were murdered and tortured in every state in our country. They were taken from their homes. They were tied around their necks with ropes. They were burned, dismembered, hanged, and drowned. As the president stated, they were often hanged, burned, drowned, or dismembered as their families watched and as large crowds watched. The federal government did not consider Lynching a crime.

According to Mr. Biden's presidential campaign, it's not just about America's past. He spoke out about the 2017 deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

"But the law does not only deal with the past. It's all about the present. It's about the future. "From Ahmad Arbury's bullets to the countless other violence acts, many victims known and unknown, the same hatred of race drove the mob to hang the noose, which brought the mob with torches from the fields of Charlottesville just a few years back. Racial hatred is not a new problem. It is a problem that persists."


 

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