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Biden signed a bill making lynching federal hate crime

Biden signed a bill into law to make lynching a federal hate crime
President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House after signing the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act on Tuesday, March 29, 2022, in Washington. Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and Michelle Duster, the great-granddaughter of civil rights pioneer Ida B. Wells, watch. Image Credit: Patrick Semansky

Washington (AP): President Joe Biden signed a bill making lynching a federal hate crime into law on Tuesday, more than a century after such legislation was first proposed.

The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act is named after the Black teenager whose death in Mississippi in the summer of 1955 galvanized the civil rights movement. His bereaved mother insisted on an open casket so that everyone could see how her son had been mistreated.

Biden acknowledged the long and complex delay, all through remarks in the Rose Garden to lawmakers, administration officials, and civil rights advocates,  emphasizing how the violent deaths of Black Americans were used to intimidate and prevent them from voting simply because of their skin color.

"Thank you for never, ever giving up," the president said. "Lynching was a pure terror to enforce the lie that not everyone, not everyone, belongs in America, that not everyone is created equal."

However, the president highlighted that forms of racial terror continue to exist in the United States, necessitating the need for the law.

"Racism and bigotry isn't a new problem; it's a recurring problem," Biden said. "Hate never dies." It only conceals."

According to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., the new law allows for the prosecution of a crime as a lynching when a conspiracy to commit a hate crime results in death or serious bodily injury. The maximum sentence under the law is 30 years in prison and fines.

The bill was approved by House 422-3 on March 7, with eight members not voting, after it was unanimously approved by the Senate. Rush also introduced a bill in January 2019 that passed the House 410-4 before stalling in the Senate.

More than 120 years ago, Congress considered anti-lynching legislation for the first time. It had failed nearly 200 times to pass such legislation, beginning with a bill introduced in 1900 by North Carolina Rep. George Henry White, the only Black member of Congress at the time.

In the 1920s, the NAACP began advocating for anti-lynching legislation. In the 1990s, decades after the civil rights movement, a federal hate crime statute was passed and signed into law.

Till, 14, was on his way from Chicago to visit relatives in Mississippi in 1955 when he allegedly whistled at a white woman. Till had been kidnapped, beaten, and then shot in the head. Before his body was thrown into a river, a large metal fan was tied around his neck with barbed wire. Mamie Till, his mother, insisted on an open casket at the funeral to show the brutality her child had endured.

An all-white male jury acquitted two white men, Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam. Bryant and Milam later confessed to a reporter that they had kidnapped and murdered Till.

Source: AP

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